Dick Faurot's Weather Blog: Round Three on the Way

Monday, March 2nd 2015, 7:38 pm
By: News On 6

OK, we have completed rounds one and two of this series of storm systems and round three is still taking shape for the Tue/Wed time frame.

But, before getting around to that thought, a look back at the last two systems as well as a look back at February and the winter so far would be in order.

The first map was prepared by the good folks at our local National Weather Service office and shows the total snowfall over the last few days.

As is often the case, there is usually some localized banding that will set up which is impossible to anticipate in advance and which produces much heavier snowfall totals over very localized areas. That shows up clearly in Osage County with another smaller one in LeFlore county. Otherwise, the snow amounts were pretty close to what was anticipated.

If that last week of February seemed colder than usual that is because it was the third coldest stretch for those dates on record; and we have data going back to 1905!

In case you are wondering, the coldest stretch for those dates was not that long ago - in 2003 - and the second coldest was further back in 1960.

For the month as a whole, it was a dramatic departure from Dec and Jan which were both warmer than normal.

In fact, this past February averaged 6.3 degrees colder than normal, and that placed it as the 12th coldest February on record. It was also a month of extremes as the graph shows.

We set a daily high temperature record on Feb 8 with a maximum temperature of 79 and then set a daily low maximum temperature record on Feb 27 when the high only reached 20 - quite a roller coaster ride.

Total snowfall for the month was 6.1” which also placed 12th in the snowfall category for February. Keep in mind some of our heaviest snows have occurred in March so we still have the potential for lots of wintry weather ahead of us.

Also, the months of Dec-Feb are considered to be the ‘winter months' from a climatological perspective, and this past February has brought the average for ‘winter' down to slightly colder than normal, based on the historical averages. So, this winter will go down as colder than normal, although not by much.

Total snowfall is considered from the time the first snow flies till the last one ends and is not based on any particular months or calendar dates.

Our first snowfall this cool season was back during that record cold stretch in November and, as mentioned, we will likely have some more opportunities before the warm season is fully entrenched.

At any rate, our total snowfall so far this cool season now stands ‘officially' at 8.5” which is measured at the local NWS office and brings us pretty close to our seasonal average. Obviously, your particular location may well be much different.

Ok, that brings us up the present and will now shift our attention to round three. As mentioned, it is still taking shape with another strong cold front arriving Tuesday evening followed by much colder conditions again and the possibility for another round of wintry weather for Wednesday.

For tonight, cloudy skies and southerly winds will likely result in temperatures actually warming some. Temperatures so far today have only slowly rebounded into the 30s. Tonight a more southerly wind of 10-15 and the cloudy skies will likely result in temperatures in the lower 40s to start the day.

Gusty SW winds ahead of the cold front Tuesday afternoon should push temperatures well into the 50s and possibly near 60 before the cold front arrives. I would be more optimistic about even warmer temperatures if we were to have some sunshine but it appears that overcast skies will persist through the day.

The lack of sunshine on Tuesday - together with the SW wind component - minimizes the potential instability and convergence ahead of the cold front and therefore minimizes any chances of thunder.

However, there is a good chance of showers - mainly post-frontal - although the extreme SE counties may have a rumble of thunder.

Then there is Wednesday. Temperatures will likely start off near or just below freezing, and with northerly winds of 20-30 mph, will actually be falling as the day wears on with 20s expected pretty much all day. Wind chill values will likely be in the teens and even single digits at times.

Overcast skies will not be clearing out till that evening or night. Along with the cold, windy, cloudy conditions comes another chance of wintry precipitation. The guidance regarding precipitation type and amounts are all over the place as the shallow cold air at the surface will have warm and moist air over it initially, but cold air will be moving in aloft as well. The timing of that transition will be critical regarding how much may accumulate at the surface.

Right now a cold rain is expected for Tuesday night transitioning to a sleet/freezing rain mix by Wednesday morning as surface temperatures drop below freezing. During the day it will transition over to snow as the air column cools aloft.

Snowfall amounts will depend on how quickly that transition takes place and some of the guidance suggests many locations could end up with several inches of snow, whereas other guidance keeps it mostly in the form of ice.

As you can see from the QPF map through this coming Wednesday, total precipitation amounts of 1/2” or more are likely. Since this is expected to be snow on top of ice, this could turn out to be a real winter mess. Subsequent data runs will help to clarify the amounts and the timing of the transition, so suggest keeping a close eye on the forecast for updates.

The good news is that after this event, the pattern aloft will be changing to a much more settled and therefore milder weather pattern for us and much of the country for that matter.

As you can see on our forecast page, lots of sunshine and much milder temperatures are forecast in time for the coming weekend. In fact, we may actually see temperatures above normal for the first time in several weeks.

Not only that, but, as you can see on the 8-14 day guidance, it strongly suggests warmer than normal, spring-like temperatures at long last.

In the meantime, stay tuned and check back for updates.

Dick Faurot