Friday, January 29, 2010

Latest on the winter storm for Memphis

A powerful weather system will bring a major winter storm to the Mid-South over the next 24 hours. All the ingredients are falling into place, including moisture, lift, and temperature profile, to dump significant ice and snow, which will render travel hazardous to treacherous. Mid-Southerners are asked to avoid travel Friday if at all possible. Don't let your guard down just because there is nothing going on yet this morning!
The graphic above illustrates the potential - a high likelihood of 4"+ of snow (upper-left), a moderate likelihood of 8" of snow (upper-right), an off chance of some places receiving a foot (lower-left), and a high likelihood of significant ice (1/4" or greater - lower-right).
Residents in the southern part of the metro area (southern Shelby/Fayette, DeSoto, Marshall, Tunica counties) have the greatest risk for even more ice (up to half inch), while the northern portion of the metro area runs the greatest risk of seeing 6-8" of snow. Areas that see 1/4" of ice or more can prepare for the possibility of extended power outages and tree damage (outage map for Shelby County).
I expect precipitation to start in the next two hours as freezing rain, possibly moderate at times, mixed with some sleet. By late morning, it will begin to transition to sleet and snow. Snow could be heavy at times this afternoon and a clap of thunder is possible. The kind of lift that produces thundersnow will enhance snow/sleet rates to over 1" per hour. By evening, the heavy precip will be moving east, but snow showers could continue much of the night for an additional inch or two accumulation.
Once again, do not travel unless there is an absolute need. All school systems in the area are closed. Enjoy your snowman-building and sledding, kids, but be very careful on any ice (you too parents)!

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