Thursday, January 7, 2010

Winter weather recap for 1/7/10 - where's all the snow?

Snow Forecasts
Another borderline winter weather case for us meteorologists to try and figure out! This time, it has made a little easier by being fairly confident in the precip type, and the timing wasn't bad either. The amounts were shifting (mostly down) each day for the last several though, as we looked at new computer model data up to four times a day. What at first glance last weekend looked like a system that could produce up to 2-4" of snow across the region looked a less impressive each day. By late Tuesday, it was becoming more obvious that this weather system would be less about the snow (though 1-2" was still expected) and more about the extreme cold behind it.

Even as late as yesterday, computer models were still insisting on close to an inch for the metro area (one typically reliable one even gave us 2" as of yesterday morning), but the trend was for heavier snow to go by to the north of the region closer to an upper level low and another batch to go by to the south, with the Memphis area stuck in between. This is almost exactly what happened. Snow amounts were generally right around a quarter inch in the Memphis metro (my observation was 0.2" in North Bartlett), with about half-inch to an inch over northeast Arkansas and across northwest Tennessee. Not exactly what we were hoping for, or predicting, but I'm not totally shocked to see.

Poll results
I conducted a poll this week to see how much snow Memphians thought we would get. Thanks to any of you who voted. There were 78 responses and the results were:

Nothing or flurries: 12%
A dusting (up to 1/2"): 26% (the WINNERS)
About an inch: 24%
2-3": 24%
4-6": 8%
6"+: 6% (the dreamers!)

Road treatment
TDOT, county, and city officials were out this week in full force treating the major thoroughfares, interstates, bridges, and overpasses with salt brine. This pre-wetted solution, 23% salt and 77% water, is applied as an anti-icing agent. It works down to about 20 degrees by melting snow as it falls on the road and washes off with rain. From having traveled this morning on roads that were both treated and not, it appears that this proactive step worked well. Treated roads, even with below freezing temperatures, were wet (the untreated road shoulders were snowy). I came across some icy patches and even some minor snow cover on secondary roads and untreated areas. For more info on TDOT's winter weather plans, including many stats, check out this link.

School closings
As for school closings, there are some pretty heated discussions going on on both sides of the proverbial "aisle" this morning. Many kids outside of the city of Memphis are thrilled, some parents are taking it all in stride, but many more are upset - both in the city and county. I've read comments by plenty of parents in the city who want to know why their children have to go to school when the county is out. I've also heard many complaints from parents of county school kids who say conditions don't warrant schools being called off. One thing snow does do in this area, no matter how much it is, is bring out the opinions of those affected, which is nearly everyone!

The only thing I hear that I wish to comment on is those whose opinions on school closings are based on the amount of snow we get in Memphis versus Chicago, Des Moines, Denver, [insert northern city here]... This is the south. It doesn't make sense to have the fleet of plows and salt reserves that Minneapolis has and we don't get this type of weather as often as that northern city does. We have to be more cautious than northern cities as the risks are higher. So what do you think? I'll give you a chance to voice your opinion with two polls. If your child's school was closed, cast your vote here. If your child's school was open or opened late, cast your vote here. Polls close on Friday. I'll post the results. [Side note: As I am typing this, MCS just announced that they are closing an hour early...]

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1 comment:

Anavar said...

I was so happy when the school was closed because of the large amount of snow when I was a kid. So I totally understand kids that they were thrilled.