I know some of you teachers eternally wishing for another snow day scan these pages looking for snow updates and I apologize for the increasingly scant appearance of those updates. This winter has been a real bore. In addition to the token snow flurries with departing storm systems that we seem to see so much of in place of bonafide snows, there have been precious few “fantasy snowstorms” showing up on the horizon this winter. The ones that have popped up have fizzled out, obviously, as they do every winter, but this year they don’t seem to stick around even long enough for the snow hounds to get their hopes up.
It’s not all bad, though. Those backside snow flurries have actually created a number of snow days for educators and students . . . and occasionally they’ve even gotten the ground white enough to break up the monotonous grayscapes of winter. But for those of us whose lives aren’t dictated by 6 a.m. robocalls, who are still enough of a kid at heart to appreciate a good, solid snowstorm and who think all this stinkin’ cold air without snow to accompany it is a bit like peach cobbler without ice cream, this winter has been frustrating.
Snowless winters are almost always frustrating for snow-lovers. We saw several of them in the 2000s, though it seemed that this decade was taking a turn for the better. But this one was hyped up by all the prognosticators back in the fall to be a very snowy winter. In fact, all those click-bait articles that were making the rounds on Facebook and other social media networks were touting it as a record-setting winter, with the kind of cold that would be devastating to large swaths of the U.S. populous. (Of course, there’s a lesson to be learned there. As I posted on Facebook repeatedly while those articles were making the rounds, there was nothing to suggest that this winter would be devastating and/or record-setting, and there was no way to know that far in advance. But that’s a blog post for another day.)
In any event, it isn’t out of the question that we could see some snowflakes flying late this weekend — in fact, it’s probably likely that we’ll see some snow in the air, but the idea of major accumulations seems to be a ship that has sailed.
The National Weather Service is currently forecasting a 70% chance of rain changing to snow after 10 p.m. Sunday night and a 30% chance of snow on Monday, with highs on Monday remaining below freezing and dropping into the teens Monday night before a quick warming trend kicks in on Tuesday. If you’re looking for a snow day, Monday is currently your best bet for the next couple of weeks. In fact, the NWS says in its area forecast discussion this morning that the potential exists for a couple of inches of accumulation, which would be enough to prompt a winter weather advisory if that winds up being the official forecast by the time Sunday rolls around, and it would also be the biggest snowfall this winter if it came to fruition.
But, frankly, if the GFS proves right, it’s going to be difficult to see that kind of accumulation outside the mountains of East Tennessee. The 12z GFS takes the low pressure center from the Ozarks to St. Louis and across Kentucky. With a track that far north, there simply isn’t going to be a lot of moisture left once the cold air can filter in behind the departing system, unless a secondary low forms . . . and, right now, the model isn’t depicting that. The models have struggled mightily with this system, so it’s reasonable to expect some changes between now and Sunday. But, by the same token, the models are now ingesting better data with the wave rapidly approaching, and their solutions are diverging on a consensus, so that window for change is growing smaller.
I will say that, for what it’s worth, the Cobb algorithm from the 12z run of the GFS depicts 0.3” of snow for the northern plateau as the system departs Monday morning, and the 6z GFS showed 0.4”. A small accumulation, but an accumulation nonetheless. The 12z NAM Cobb data also showed 0.4”.
In any event, as long as the NWS is projecting accumulation, I’ll side with them. They’re the pros, and they get paid to do what they do for a reason.
Beyond Monday, the next chance for snow comes about one week from today. Again, the models are wild and all over the board with what’s going to happen with this particular system. The next system after that appears to be on tap for the Feb. 11 time frame, but a warmup is expected with that system, followed by the possibility of another blast of cold air just in time for Hallmark Day.