Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Weekend Storm: One to keep an eye on

While we'll continue to enjoy April like weather at the end of January, mother nature may have something up her sleeve in regards to the weekend storm.

A surface low pressure system will develop later in the week in response to a cut-off low that will be spinning in the southwest within the southern branch of the jet stream.  At the same time, a trough of low pressure will be moving through the northern Plains and Midwest within the northern branch.  Just where and how quickly these two branches of the jet stream phase, or come together, will determine where the surface low tracks.  Right now model guidance is all over the place with the storm track heading into the weekend. 

The GFS, the National Weather Service model, has been trending slower and further west with the low.  It develops the surface low near the Texas/Oklahoma panhandles and lifts it northeast through Missouri and into central Illinois.  This track would yield the heaviest snow band setting up either on or very close to the Stateline.  In fact, the raw model data from this morning's GFS run has a whopping 8.7" of snow!  Yikes!

The latest run of the GEM model (Canadian model) develops the surface low roughly in the same location, but lifts it further north keeping the heaviest of the snow accumulations just to our northwest.  This track would probably yield more mixed precipitation.

The European model, again, develops the surface low around the same area but tracks it well south of the Stateline.  A few snow showers could be found but nothing to get excited about.

So, what is going to happen this weekend?  A lot of this storm track depends on how the two jet stream branches phase.  It seems as if the trend this winter has been for storms to take more of a northerly track bringing us more rainfall than snow.  Now, that's not to say that this one will go further south and bring us 8" of snow but it's definitely worth watching if you have plans for the weekend. 

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