Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Ugly Analog For Upcoming Storm

February 15, 2003. Part of a massive storm system that produced blizzard conditions for some in the U.S. For some of us, though, here in Kentucky, it was an ice storm that brought Lexington to its knees.


Could something like that happen? Hopefully not this time. But, I am more convinced that ice will be in some of our official forecasts.


Monday, January 14, 2019

MikJournal Monday 01/14/2019...All Teleconnections On Board

Ah. An interesting title for this week's MikJournal Monday. And thanks for visiting and welcome. Parts of our region were brushed with a taste of winter weather while the northern part of Kentucky was dumped on.

This last winter storm verified that the teleconnections were not all on board. I blamed it on the NAO for not being able to keep the cold air in place. I said last week that the northern part of the state stood the best chance for a significant winter event. Of course, at that time, the 'entertainment' models were all over the place and confidence in exact placement of winter precipitation was weak.

Now, I am pleased to announce that ALL teleconnections I follow are on board. What does this mean? A significant, region-wide winter event is looking more likely later this week into the weekend. I am talking about most, if not all of Kentucky could be looking at a significant winter storm or series of storms. Snowfall, freezing rain, sleet, rain, yes, these are all on the table. However, nearly all areas will experience what I would call a significant amount of winter precipitation.

My reasons for later this week and beyond are listed below....

  • Arctic air, yes, a very cold air mass will penetrate the region
  • PNA+ trending negative, AO- trending positive, NAO- trending positive
  • Cold air will be locked in at the surface
  • Any impending storm system will have a harder time scouring out the cold air in place, at the surface and just above the surface
  • Any snowpack will create even colder conditions, possibly low single digits to negative values, making it even more difficult for additional storm systems from the south to 'warm' us up very much
  • Look for more 'overachieving' clipper-type systems to dive through the NW flow
This setup is taking on a vigorous, aggressive look for the next couple of weeks. This is in stark contrast to the rather balmy period we had experienced the first part of the month. The period of time mentioned around the 3rd week of January does relate to the timing of an expected Polar Vortex displacement or split.

The teleconnection patterns of the PNA, AO, and the NAO are favoring a winter scenario. One caveat that I do see but am not too concerned about yet is the AO and NAO may try and crush additional southern-fed systems to our south. This would still favor perhaps a part of our region experiencing additional winter weather. The highest likelihood would be far southwestern, southern, or southeastern KY.

But, for now, I am bullish on this winter stance coming at the end of the week. And it may very well stay with us for quite a while.

Take a look at the results of my latest Euro/GFS challenge. It was definitely surprising. Hopefully, I can do another one and have additional locations included from other areas.

Stay tuned this week to your favorite media sources for the next major winter weather player. Might be a good time to get your windshield wipers replaced, check on your automobile battery, and make sure you have a survival kit in your car in case you become stranded. Also, in the event of an ice storm, have extra batteries on hand in case of power outages, enough gas for portable generators, additional heating sources in case of power failures. Wrap and insulate any external water pipes. Disconnect any external water hoses from the house and turn off any water that is separate from the main. In other words, have a plan in place and stay safe.

Have a good week.


Friday, January 11, 2019

GFS and Euro Challenge (Rules by MikJournal)

And the winner of the challenge is...

I have gathered as much information as I can regarding snow totals. Most are exact, some are close estimates unfortunately. I cannot believe some of these 'official' reporting stations do not have a snow report. So, I did accept these 'few' estimates from the NWS pages. You will notice the storm totals next to the location. Despite the few estimates, I really do not think it would have made much of a difference. There was a clear winner for this challenge. In a mild upset, the winner is....



That's right. Welcome to the MikJournal Snow Challenge between the superior Euro model and the doormat of forecast models, the GFS.

Who will win this challenge? The Euro, notorious for 'holding back energy from the Southwest'? Or the GFS, the model that seems to get lost in mid-thought?

Both claim medium-range forecasting as their niche. That's why these models should only be used at 4-7 days out from a storm system's ETA. I suggest neither of these models be used for short range forecasting. Leave that to the higher resolution and short-range forecast models like the NAM or HRRR.

Now, it's my rules. I get to choose the maps, the dates, the locations. After Sunday night, come Monday morning let's see how these 'snapshots' of this potential winter storm system unfolded by focusing on snowfall totals ONLY. I don't care about the rain, freezing rain, and sleet, just snowfall totals through Sunday night.

In this corner, here is a map of one of the Euro's runs on Tuesday, well into getting past that so-called Southwest Bias and still within an acceptable range for providing its 'superior' forecast.

And in this corner, The GFS' picture from the same day and applicable to the same time period from Friday through Sunday....

These are the maps I am using. No other maps.

Next, I choose the locations. As you can see, there are many locations represented by the amounts listed. For time purposes, I will select a FEW locations from Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri. These are the ONLY states I will use.

The locations listed below, I have no idea how they will do in terms of snowfall. But, I will gather the official snowfall readings from the NWS for Friday - Sunday night ending at Midnight(which would technically be Monday the next day). Remember, snowfall does not equal snow depth. You can actually have a dusting on the ground and still have 1" of snowfall recorded by the NWS.

I do not care how well one model did for other locations not listed. These are my rules. I choose the locations. I am grading this challenge solely on the amount of snowfall listed from the NWS through Sunday night, starting whenever on Friday, and only the locations I have chosen. I will not accept measurements from any other sources but the NWS offices for each location.

You will see each model's interpretation or estimate in inches. Then come sometime Monday or Tuesday, I will gather the official totals from the NWS offices and add up the differences. This challenge is not based on how many locations each model wins, but the grand sum of the differences. The model with the overall least difference wins this challenge. It's my rules.

Louisville: 2.9

Lexington: 2.1

Jackson: 0.4

Paducah: 0.6

Covington: 8.7

Terra Haute: 6

Evansville: 3.4

Indianapolis: 7.2

Muncie: 6

Bloomington IN: 3.6

Vincennes: 4

Effingham: 6.5

Carbondale: 4

Salem IL: 5.0

Cape Girardeau MO: 2.3

St Louis: 11.4

Springfield MO: 0.1

Rolla: 5.5"

I'll say right now, as I write this, St Louis is expecting nearly 12" snow, according to latest forecast. GFS might get slammed on that one alone.

I'll determine the winner with the data provided by the NWS offices for each of these locations on Monday or Tuesday.


Wednesday, January 9, 2019

NAM That Tune

24-Hour Update Most recent run of the NAM (12z 01/10)
Trend continues northward jog of heaviest precipitation through Sunday evening. If all snow, could be a smackdown. This is for areas along and just north of the Ohio River nearest central and northern Kentucky. Still hard to gauge how the western part of the state will be impacted. But areas further north there too, if all snow, could be significantly impacted. With this northward expansion of more liquid, could there be more of a mix than even what the NAM is showing? That's why I say let's see what the evening run shows. Some of these snow totals look a little too aggressive.

First full reliable run (12z 01/09)of the NAM is in....well, it looks like a mess.

Using the data from this run, this is what I can interpret.

Initial band of snow overspreads the region Friday night. Possible 1-3" amounts for quite a few. There could be isolated 4" amounts and the snow could be very dense. A break in the action during the day Saturday as rain or rain/snow mix moves back in during the afternoon thereby melting much of the overnight accumulation. This goes through Saturday evening.

This continues the theme of an increasingly wet solution. At the same time, those who get mostly snow will see a modest amount.

I like the NAM at or just within 24 hours of storm arrival for a most accurate interpretation. So, give it a few more runs through at least tomorrow evening.

I will update this page as additional runs come in, likely the 12z run tomorrow and the 0z run Thursday evening.


Monday, January 7, 2019

MikJournal Monday 01/07/2019...Fun Stats

Welcome to the first MikJournal Monday of the new year. Hopefully, for some, this will be a better year for weather. Unfortunately for some, that's why we have historical and recordable observations. After all, that is how many of us found out last year was our wettest year on record.

This time, though, I would like to uncover some statistics and put a different spin on them. Will this have any correlation with how our weather will play out the rest of this winter? Probably not. It's still fun to look at them.

For example, the month of November 2018. I know I remember it. We had an ice storm that knocked me off the power grid for nearly 40 consecutive hours. The living room was a chilly 52 degrees.

During November, Lexington recorded 3 days of measurable snowfall or sleet. While that in itself does not sound amazing, leafing through the pages of history, the maximum number of days of measurable snowfall in November has been 5 days. This occurred during the snow season of 1972/73 and 1950/51. 

It was quite interesting to uncover what happened the rest of the winter. The snow season of 1972/73 saw measurable snowfall for 7 consecutive months of the year. Yes, October through April. The winter months of December through February produced above normal temperatures for December and January, but below normal temperatures for February. The month of March was well above normal and April came in at below normal. The snow season total came to a whopping 5.3". Let me retype that again...5.3". Yep, 5.3".

Rewind to the snow season of 1950/51. Those 5 days in November were a bit more snow-efficient. In fact, to this day, November 1950 is the snowiest month in Lexington's climatological history at 9.7". How did the rest of the winter fare? How does 41.7" sound? Yes, that is still the 5th snowiest snow season on record for Lexington.

But, back to those 3 days in November 2018. The accumulated snowfall was not much, 1.0". Add December's 1 and only day of measurable snowfall of 0.1" and you have a fairly slow start to the snow season.

During the 1911/12 snow season, the accumulated snowfall for those 3 days in November was not much, 1.8". December only had 1 day of measurable snowfall, 0.3" producing 2.1" for the two months combined. Again, not a very impressive start. But, they wound up with 23.9". Not bad. For the winter months of December through February, the total was 16.5", again a modest number.

Temperatures during the 1911/12 snow season averaged 4.8 degrees above normal in December, 9.8 degrees below normal in January (5th coldest January on record), and 9.3 degrees below normal in February. March was a little better at 6.2 degrees below normal along with over 5.5" snowfall for the month.

Now, looking at the present, Lexington did enjoy some relative warmth in December at 5.0 degrees above normal. However, I am going to go out on a limb here and say that Lexington will not have a 9+ degrees below normal month for this January. Right now, they are sitting pretty at 10.5 degrees above normal through the first 6 days with expected temperatures over the next couple of days of 15-20 degrees above normal today and at least 10 degrees above normal tomorrow before a more realistic winter pattern sets in for a few days this week.

That brings us to the upcoming weekend. Indications are showing a possible winter scenario unfolding for our region. So, how about it? Well, while your professional forecasters, who can give you a winter snowfall total for 3 months in advance, but cannot do so at now less than 6 days out, discuss the potential for frozen precipitation by using waffling models, I go a little beyond that and discuss other contributing factors besides these unreliable models this far out.

Using the teleconnections, the AO does show a definitive V-shape signature indicative of a potential winter storm for at least parts of our region. As I have explained before, the AO has to be in the negative phase, bottoming out, then trending positive toward the neutral line. Somewhere along that positively trending line will be our winter storm potential. And it does align with the possibility for precipitation breaking out according to the models.

However, the AO is not the only game in town. Other teleconnections have to contribute. Recently, I have reviewed the PNA pattern and like what I see. A positive PNA trending a little negative toward the neutral line. That's another strong indication for winter storm potential.

Unfortunately, I do not have access to the EPO data thanks to our wonderful government shutdown .

Regardless, what I am most disturbed about this upcoming week's winter storm potential is the behavior of the NAO. It would be nice to have a nice blocking signal in the northeast to help keep the cold air from getting away too fast. But, the GFS ensembles have consistently shown agreement that there is no definitive signal for a significant blocking pattern to develop by this weekend.

What does this mean for our region? We will have a cold, Canadian air mass over the next few days. This is not an Arctic air mass. It will not have shallow, cold air trapped at the surface. Once this storm system moves in, warmer air will become drawn into the region. How much warmer air really depends on any blocking to our northeast. If it's not a significant block, the cold air is just going to be pushed aside.

Could we still see frozen precipitation? Yes, parts of our region could see frozen precipitation. However, temperatures at and above the surface will be marginal in supporting all snow. This kind of setup could lead to a heavy wet snow for some, a rain/sleet/snow mix for some, and a mostly liquid event for some.

Right now, and of course this is going to change since some of the short term models will be sampling this thing soon, I would expect far northern Kentucky to see the highest chances (and it's really not that high to begin with) for snowfall this weekend. The rest of us will have to put up with a mixed bag of snow/sleet/rain.

Again, it's something to watch. It will be fun watching these forecast models giveth and taketh away. People really rely on every single run of these models for some reason. It's like grab a beer and let's see what the next run give us. If it's not good, just bring the whole keg and let's forget about the whole thing. Whatever.

Have a good week. I'm sure you'll be tuned in to your favorite media sources for the latest updates on our next storm system.


Friday, January 4, 2019

MikJournal January Outlook...Finally

Well, let me start by being open and frank. This government shutdown business is not good for weather business. The normal tools this armchair meteorologist utilizes cannot be accessed. That requires additional research which leads me to another dead end. Why? Uh, government shutdown, again.

And guess what? 'They' are still going to be paid. 'They' know who I am talking about.

So, we will make the best lemonade possible from these 'lemons'. Thankfully, not much of an outlook is needed.

I'll tell you why in just a moment. First, the month of December here in Kentucky was above normal in terms of temperatures and precipitation. Temperatures ranged from about 2.5 degrees to as much as nearly 5.5 degrees above normal. For you professional meteorologists who like to give your 'winter forecasts', some of you are off to a sluggish start. If your winter forecast, that's right, December through February, was for below normal temperatures, any below normal months we might experience will now have to be offset by the first month of December's relatively mild readings.

Next, throw in the month of January. If you were hoping this month was going to be the coldest month of the winter, well, the reference sources I have been able to use, which are not many unfortunately, have consistently presented an above normal temperature regime for the first half of the month, perhaps some 6-10 degrees above normal. Winter will have to really kick it up a notch to offset this difference in addition to December's gains.

I will say that this run of above normal temperatures cannot be sustained. Chunks of cold air will continue to drop toward our region later this month, even if it is just a little bit below normal. At the same time, I am not as confident about long-lasting cold like what we experienced last winter during late December into January. This applies only to the month of January. At the very worst, this January will likely be above normal, even if it is just a few degrees.

I do expect February to be colder than normal. I'm still sticking to that one. But, I was also expecting more of a fight from Old Man Winter during his prime time month for snow and cold here in January. It will be interesting to see if my February Outlook will have to be altered if this persistent 'warmth' continues. But, that's for another time, and hopefully, those 'kids' responsible for looking after the cleanliness of our parks and those other 'kids' who do not know how to throw away their garbage by putting them in proper receptacles, will be a thing of the past. Trust me, I am not going to hold my breath on that one.


Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Regional Wettest Years Ever List 2018

What a fitting way to end the year 2018...rain. And why not. Several locations in and around Kentucky set all-time precipitation records for the year. Here is a brief list of these locations....

Jackson TN.................77.10"
Crossville TN.............74.88"
Lexington KY............71.98"
Frankfort KY..............68.94"
Louisville KY.............68.83"
Jackson KY................67.98"
Danville VA...............67.61"
Charleston WV...........67.05"
Lynchburg VA...........65.70"
Elizabeth City NC......63.95"
Roanoke VA...............62.45"
Alderson WV..............61.51"
Columbus OH............55.18"


Ugly Analog For Upcoming Storm

February 15, 2003. Part of a massive storm system that produced blizzard conditions for some in the U.S. For some of us, though, here in Ken...