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Update - Final Numbers And Thoughts On Today's Snow

The title speaks for itself :-) How much are you going to get? When's it going to start? Check it out here.

Updates Below (most recent: 10:30am)

And finally it's Friday.

We'll jump right into it-- snow is coming to the tri-state, and everyone is going to be involved. The first thing that comes to mind when I say that is...

"Don't you lie to me!" :-)

Yes, there's been a lot of people (in the Huntington area and in eastern Kentucky) that have been screwed out of appreciable snowfall going on two years now, having seen just about everyone else able to get out and go sledding and making real snowmen that aren't covered in leaves and grass (I'm in that group too).

First I want to talk about the timing of our storm system, then I'll give my final numbers. Feel free to comment and/or question in the discussion section at the bottom. I'll get to what I can during the day today.

Storm Timing...

For this, the hi-resolution NAM will be the model of choice. Not specifically because of its solution, but because in the end a high-resolution of terrain and data typically provides the best insight to the nuance of a local area.

Hi-Res NAM - 11am Friday

The first flakes will fall in the morning in Kentucky, but the accumulating snows should hold off until after the morning commute for most of us. This goes for the school kids as well as the drivers. Notice in the farthest south sections of Kentucky the prospect of mixing gets close, something we'll have to keep in mind.

Hi-Res Nam - 3pm Friday

This will be right around the peak of the storm, even though this particular image doesn't show something grand. This underscores the fact that, as far as storms go, this is a "light" event. However, this also has the makings of a high impact event as well. There very well may not be enough snow to plow by the time kids get out from school, but at the same time it will be snowing pretty steadily. This makes the road conditions poor regardless of whether the kids are let out of school early or are dismissed at the normal time. I have no control over what happens with the schools, but my impression is that it's a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation. In that light, I would think it's best to keep a "normal" day for commuters and schools, on the off-chance that it's a more manageable scenario; and on the off-chance.that it's a bigger event you will have allowed more time for the plows and salters to be on the roadways. Philosophically, I'm in favor of retaining as much "normalcy" for the time everyone's on the roadways, so that there's one less thing to worry about when trying to focus on the road. Everyone allow for more patience at stoplights in case of spinouts, give yourself more time and distance when slowing down, and be very careful when changing lanes on the highway-- and you'll be fine.

Hi-Res NAM - 9pm Friday

This is a quick-hitting system, which is what Clippers are all about. A lot of the accumulating snows transition to the elevations by the evening time, and we're pretty-much done with the event in the western counties. Upslope wrap-around snows take a little while longer to take hold in these regions, so places from Charleston up I-79 and points east are still in line for more sticking snow beyond this point.

NAM - Saturday 12pm

Okay, this is the regular NAM run and not the hi-res, so perhaps I lied here ;-) However, I think this one is more descriptive to my liking. Not only do I want to show the up-slope conditions ratcheting back up during the day Saturday, but also the plunge of colder air at the same time. The arrival of the colder air is going to make the snow fluffier, and be able to deliver a higher measurement of snowfall for the same liquid water content. This is something that folks in Central West Virginia saw all too clearly with yesterday's upslope event, which happened to be a great dry-run for today's weather.

Snow Numbers...

You can check out my "first call" numbers from a couple of days ago here, but here's my final numbers for this event...

Notes: There are some subtle changes with this forecast from the last one. First and foremost, I felt more comfortable going with 1-3" in the Huntington area rather than 2-4" because I think that 2" is the most common number. I can see 1" much more than I can see 4". I know this disappoints some folks begging for the snow, but I gotta go with what I'm seeing. There is a layer of dry air showing up in the internals of the models that appears right below the snow-growth layer within the clouds that ends up forcing some of the flakes to contribute to saturating the air below it (to create a pathway to the ground), and the speed of the system is also something else to consider. Spirits run high among snow-lovers who have been jaded for two years, and I want to be honest with you :-) ... Now, in West Virginia, the thoughts are on the opposite side. Those of you who life in Jackson, Roan, Wirt, Calhoun, Braxton (etc.) counties, you saw more snow than was forecast yesterday and it was entirely due to feedback processes of colder air that can cause dry fluffier snow to measure deeper than normal for the same amount of water content. It's a lot easier to pinpoint the lower-bound number than the higher end of the range, so I'm open to the possibility of more snow appearing on those ridgetops and rural areas, just like what we saw yesterday. The Kanawha Valley is still looking good with the 2-4" number, and the mountains to the east are amped up a little bit more. The higher numbers will be around or north of 8" once Saturday's upslope snow gets added to the mix. This will be a powdery snow that will not cause widespread outages (a big concern in some of the questions I've been getting).

Overall, this is a light event as storms go, so cool it on the rush for groceries and batteries ;-) However, this also has the potential to be a high impact event during the afternoon drive given the few desirable options with marginal snowfalls. The Winter Weather Advisories the National Weather Service is going with are well recommended and supported for this reason.

Whatever we do get, please enjoy it, as warmer temperatures rush in next week to melt it all away. Check out the 7-day below for the numbers-- it's going to get pretty muddy again.

As I said before, feel free to ask any questions regarding the forecast, and I will try to get on and update things during the day. Your viewer snowfall reports are most welcome as well, so we can all participate in what's happening, even if we're not setting any records with this event.

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Update (10:30am) - On The Appearance of Sleet / Freezing Drizzle

Snow had been falling to start the event in the river cities area and in Kentucky, but then a change-over to sleet and freezing drizzle occurred in spots in the late morning hours. The reasons for this differ depending on where you are. If you are in southern Kentucky getting the sleet, it's because you are in a region where temperatures aloft are above freezing for just enough time to melt the falling snow before it refreezes back into ice in the colder air near the surface. Up toward places like Huntington, however, the temperatures are below freezing all the way through. What is happening here is that there's still a lingering layer of dry air that needs to be overcome, and it is stunting cloud thickness and growth. Temperatures within a cloud must get to a reading lower than -10°C in order for enough cold air to be present to fully mature a snowflake. If this is not the case (as can be with thinner, lower clouds), instead all you can muster is freezing rain and sleet-- even if the temperatures are near zero, let alone 20. In this situation, once a deeper layer of saturation occurs, the cloud temperatures will drop and the clouds grow, and the flakes will once again flow.

This is also one of the reasons why I liked lower snow numbers in the Huntington / Big Sandy area compared to what some of the models had been spitting out in the run-up to this morning.
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Have a great day everyone!

-B

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