One really rough day of winter weather is down in the books. However, we are only a fraction into this entire event, as we have three more potential winter storms to get through over the next five days. Like I said yesterday, not only will this include winter precipitation, but also the coldest air North Texas has felt in decades with some of that cold air already in place as the snow is falling. Definitely not a good combination and certainly not a combination that we are accustomed to.
DISCLAIMER: As I mentioned in yesterday's blog entry, this forecast WILL change. I strongly encourage you to only keep up to date with latest information. Remember, if you are reading products that are 16-24 hours old, you are using bad information.
READ ME READ ME READ ME READ ME PLSSS: TODAY WILL BE THE LAST GOOD DAY TO PREPARE BEFORE SEVERAL DAYS OF WINTRY PRECIPITATION, DANGEROUSLY COLD TEMPERATURES THAT CAN LEAD TO HYPOTHERMIA AND FROSTBITE IF PRECAUTIONS ARE NOT TAKEN, AND LIFE-THREATENING, HAZARDOUS TO NEAR IMPOSSIBLE TRAVEL CONDITIONS. CONDITIONS WILL SLOWLY START TO GO DOWNHILL SATURDAY NIGHT.
FRIDAY: Not as chaotic as yesterday for obvious reasons. We will still need to be on the lookout for freezing drizzle tonight where temperatures are below freezing. That being said, a majority of this blog entry will be focused on tomorrow and early next week. I will post updates about today's conditions on my twitter page if needed.
WINTER STORM #1 ON SATURDAY - If you read yesterday's blog, I briefly touched on this. However, I neglected to go into full detail due to some uncertainties. I am getting more concerned about a quick-hitting storm system for much of North and Central Texas for Saturday afternoon and evening. While precipitation mode remains uncertain, this could be a freezing rain/sleet/light snow event for the aforementioned regions. At this time, light snow at times would be the most probable if you are along and north of the I-35W/E Junction in Hillsboro. Conversely, freezing rain and sleet will be more of an issue if you are located so the south of that Junction. In more simple terms in regards to travel, it is possible that roads will start deteriorating in our southern counties by tomorrow evening.
Please also be advised that this first storm will not result in a complete whiteout; chances are, you will not see much of any snow fall out of the sky while some areas receive anywhere from a dusting to an inch at best. However, do take notes from yesterday. It does not take a full fledged winter storm to cause major issues on the roads.
WINTER STORM #2: THE BIG ONE - I understand that most of you have stayed in the south for most of your life and are not accustomed to Midwest-type winter storms. So, let me preface this section by reminding everybody that when we have winter storms in North Texas, temperatures are generally above freezing in most spots where snow does fall, precluding any extended travel issues after the snow has ended. However, this will not be the case this weekend into early next week. Temperatures will be well below freezing (32°F>) when the snow is falling. This will not only cause dry, powdery snow to fall since the warm air just above the surface is missing, but will also cause long-term travel issues as a result of surfaces already being below freezing, allowing for any precipitation that falls to freeze and accumulate. The drier snow will be more prone to movement by gusty winds, which we will have with this storm. Gusty winds of 10-20 mph with occasionally higher readings is likely.
As a result, near blizzard-like conditions are possible, along with the possibility of snowdrifts.
HOW MUCH SNOW WILL FALL? - Because the storm system responsible for causing this event is not in our upper air network yet, I will refrain from giving away exact forecast amounts. Instead, I will say that everyone in North Texas has a chance of receiving anywhere from 2-7 inches of snow. Isolated higher amounts are possible, of course. Once this storm system arrives in the West Coast tonight, expect a snowfall map from us as early as potentially tomorrow morning, when we will have access to weather balloon data, as well as higher resolution guidance.
WHEN WILL IT GET HERE? - The simple answer is that no one truly knows an accurate answer to that yet. Light snow will already be taking place across the Panhandle by Saturday afternoon and evening, quickly spreading into West Texas during the overnight hours. Precipitation will quickly increase in size and intensity as it slowly begins its journey to the east over the rest of the Lone Star State. Forecast guidance has tried to speed the system up in the last couple of runs, resulting in a mostly Valentines Day event with precipitation ending across East Texas by daybreak on Monday. Others have continued to display a Sunday evening - Monday afternoon event. Like I mentioned previously, we will get a better handle on the timing of this system tomorrow morning.
HOW COLD WILL IT GET? - Another surge of arctic air will reach the North Texas area Monday night through Tuesday morning. As if it can't get any colder, this will create the coldest airmass North Texas has seen in decades. Morning lows on Sunday will be in the teens, followed by single digits on Monday, finishing off at near or below zero on Tuesday morning. These are morning lows that I am talking about. Not wind chills. In the worse case scenario, we will see wind chills around 20 below zero for several areas in North Texas.
IMPACTS - This will be an extremely dangerous situation for those who are caught traveling in this. With near-blizzard conditions anticipated at the climax of this event, travel will become nearly impossible. I cannot stress how dangerous it will be to travel on Sunday, Monday, and even Tuesday for all of North Texas. It may last several days for the communities that receive significant snowfall/ice accumulations. Power outages are likely in the places we see significant snow and ice buildup on trees and powerlines. Some power outages are possible due to the extreme cold, which will increase the demand for energy. All pipes will be susceptible to bursting if not insulated properly. Hypothermia and frostbite will be possible for those not dressed appropriately. Additionally, we will need warming shelters if the winter storm results in widespread power outages and stranded travelers. Ice and snow will exist on the roads for several days or until road crews are able to plow through the snow drifts.
STORM #3 - I alluded to this in the last discussion, but long range forecast guidance suggests the potential for yet another winter storm for much of North Texas either Wednesday or/and Thursday. This would only delay recovery efforts from storm #2. To mitigate the risk of information overload, I will get into more specifics once we through the event this weekend. :-)
MAP LITERACY - Just about anytime we forecast extreme weather, we get dozens of messages that consist of "what about *insert town or city here*". Most of these messages come on posts with references to counties or major highways in North Texas.
In my five years of doing this, I have learned that several people struggle with geography, and more specifically have a tough time trying to read maps. I understand. I struggle with many things to. If you were to give me analytic geometry questions, I would look at you like you just shot a man before my eyes. But there is no way we can name hundreds of municipalities in North Texas on every post.
I encourage you to take a few minutes to learn the major highways and counties relative to your location. I promise it will help you understand the blog entries and the posts I make here addressing any time of weather extreme.