Sunday, January 17, 2016

On Arctic cold and multiple winter weather chances

Cold weather has come to stay for a while and while it's not as cold as places to our north...

Sunday noon wind chill values. Graphic courtesy WeatherBell.'s still cold by southern standards! The cold air in place will mean there will be a few time periods I'll be watching for the potential for wintry weather. In addition, the coldest of the Arctic air will drop into the metro tomorrow.

A reinforcing cold front arrives tonight, which drops our mid 40s of today below the freezing mark for tomorrow. The front will mainly bring clouds and an increase in the north wind, but it will also try and "wring out" what little moisture is in the air. With temps falling below freezing, snow flurries will be possible this evening, mainly to our west. However, I'm not optimistic.  Here's what the mid-day high-res model thinks might be happening at midnight:

Very light snow/flurries is depicted over the metro by the HRRR model at midnight tonight. Graphic courtesy WeatherBell.
Most likely a non-event as far as precip is concerned. HOWEVER, it's a good thing the baby chicks aren't out at the bus stops in the morning! Here's what the high-resolution NAM model predicts for 8am Monday wind chills:

8am wind chills will be in the lower teens Monday morning if you have to go to work. Graphic courtesy WeatherBell.
Yep, lower teens! Actual air temperatures will drop to near 20° to start the MLK holiday with afternoon highs struggling to reach freezing. If you will be out tomorrow for work, or maybe to catch the Grizzlies annual MLK Day basketball game at the Forum, layer up! It'll be teeth-chattering weather!

Another cold morning is expected Tuesday as the kiddos head back to school with lows again near 20° but afternoon highs rebound a bit back into the lower 40s as clouds increase ahead of the next weather-maker. (It's also worth mentioning to make sure your pets are taken care of as far as a warm place to stay and water that won't freeze, especially from tonight through Tuesday morning.)

Speaking of the next system, the round of precipitation I'm most keeping my eye on arrives early Wednesday morning. It's won't be nearly as cold as previous mornings as wind shifts to the south, but we might still see temperatures bottom out in the mid 30s overnight Tuesday into early Wednesday morning. Depending on when exactly the precipitation arrives, a light wintry mix is possible during that time frame. I feel the best chances for anything freezing or frozen will be north of the metro as it will take a little longer for the cold to retreat north of that area. However, as Jim Carrey would say:

Well, I suppose! The NWS has highlighted the area they think will have the "best" chance (below), but you'll notice the confidence factor is still pretty low on that event. We'll keep our eyes on it!

Rain is expected through at least mid-day Wednesday as low pressure and a front moves through the region. A lull in the precip occurs Wednesday PM before another low pressure system tracks through the region Thursday bringing more rain chances. Both medium range models I look at routinely (the American GFS and European ECMWF) keep lingering very light precipitation in the area Thursday night and early Friday as more Arctic cold air spills south. This would be time period #3 to monitor for the potential for winter weather.

In sum, winter cold has invaded the U.S. with periods of sub-freezing air dropping into the Mid-South. With a storm track that also favors a weather system moving through every few days, we'll need to keep a close eye on the timing of these to gauge the respective winter weather chances with each. We'll keep you updated via this blog, our social media feeds (links below), and the MWN Forecast, which you can find on the web, mobile web, and our app (links also below).

And for those who wondered whether winter would ever arrive during our balmy December... it's here! :-)

Erik Proseus
MWN Meteorologist

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