Battle of the Forecast Models

There is some disagreement with the computer forecast models on the next upcoming snowfall for Thursday/Friday and the snowfall expected for Sunday/Monday.

As mentioned last week, we are seeing a potential for snow to start off the New Year. Leading up to this potential, we are seeing predominantly dry conditions in the region through Wednesday...

 

The above image shows what is expected by 7 PM Wednesday evening, according to the GFS (left) and the NAM (right) model. Conditions are quiet in our region at that time frame; however, to our west, two systems are developing. The system in the south is looking to bring rainfall during this time frame to Southern portions of the Gulf states.The GFS is more progressive with this rainfall. The system in the north is looking to bring snowfall from the Plains to the Great Lakes. The GFS indicates a chance for heavy snowfall in Kansas (the green shading) but the NAM does not expect this.

Things get really interesting when these two systems merge by Thursday morning...

 

According to both the GFS (left) and the NAM (right), we will start to see precipitation moving into Kentucky and Ohio. Both the models are showing a chance of snow moving into Ohio. However, note how the GFS has the snow line (5400 height) further northwestward into Kentucky than NAM. As a result, the GFS is predicting mixed precipitation for Kentucky; whereas, the NAM is predicting snow. Another difference one can easily detect between the two models is the extent of the rain to the south. Clearly, there is some disagreement during this time frame. 

Moving into Thursday evening, precipitation spreads into the rest of the region...

For our region, there is general agreement between the two models during this time frame. Both the NAM (right) and the GFS (left) show snow affecting West Virginia and E. Kentucky Thursday night. Both models also agree with the placement of the heavier snow in the mountains of West Virginia. One slight difference is the placement of the snow line (5400m height). The NAM places the line further off the coast than the GFS. Regardless, we should be well enough to the North of this line to see snow. 

The system exits our region for Friday morning...

Both of the models agree on the dry air that should be in place by Friday morning. 

The smallest amount of change in timing and placement with this system has a huge affect on the amount of snow we will see in our region. Thus, we will have to continue to monitor the models as they come to better agreement over the next day or so. 

Heading into Sunday and Monday, yet another system is expected to develop and bring a potential for snowfall. Once again, the models are disagreeing on the forecast. The EURO has a very ambitious outlook for Monday morning...

 

This set-up would have the potential to bring significant snowfall to our region. Note the strength of the system rotating over the east coast, with the tightly packed pressure contours and a low pressure of 982 mb. Furthermore, the coldest air on the continent is pushing into the upper Midwest, which will bring very chilly air to our region with cold air advection taking place. 

However, the GFS is not as convinced...

 

 Note how the low pressure (1026 mb) is not as strong as the output from the EURO (982 mb) and the coldest air is still well into Canada on Monday morning.  This would translate to a difference of blizzard conditions to just a light snowfall!

Stay tuned to WSAZ and wsaz.com for updates!

 

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