WSAZ - Blogs - Kelly Ann Cicalese

A Series of Cold Fronts Affecting Our Weather

A cold front heads our way tonight, but an even stronger cold front approaches Tuesday night. How will our forecast be affected?

We saw widespread rainfall in our region Saturday, with amounts close to an inch heading eastward. Rain is already falling for much of the area tonight, and is expected to continue throughout the evening. This rainfall is due to a frontal passage (FROPA)...

The image above shows where NCEP expects the cold front to be located at 1 AM later this evening (labeled cold front 1). By this time frame, the cold front should sit along the Ohio/West Virginia border. With Ohio sitting in the wake of the cold front, showers should start to lighten.

***(Note the 2nd cold front sitting just west of the Great Lakes [labeled cold front 2 above]. Later in this post I'll talk about how this cold front will affect us Tuesday night.)

Rain should start to taper off around dawn- according to the NAM (below left panel). However, the GFS doesn't expect the rain to taper off until 10 AM (below rigt panel). Currently, I believe the rain will end closer to the NAM timeframe as the upper level moisture decreases significantly.

As I hinted at above, yet another cold front will to hit our region Tuesday night. This cold front will be stronger- with a big dip in temperatures and even a chance of snow. Here is the outlook according to the NAM...

Rain should arrive around 10 PM Tuesday, with a rain snow mix possible into Ohio (upper left). The precipitation should continue throughout the evening and start to taper off around 7 AM Wednesday (upper right). By pre-dawn, temperatures should cool down enough to allow for a chance of flurries region wide. Notice how we are well north of the 0° C isotherm (rain/snow line) by 7 AM (upper right).

This outlook differs greatly from the GFS outlook...

There are two large differences between the NAM and GFS. First, the GFS doesn't expect the precipitation until 4 AM Wednesday morning (upper left). Because of the later onset, the conditions will be much colder and so precipitation will likely start as rain/snow mix to even pure snow. Second, the GFS doesn't expect the precipitation to end until 7PM Wednesday (upper right). This is much later than the 7 AM ending that the NAM is expecting. Another minor difference is the extent of the rainfall, with the GFS keeping S. Ohio dry throughout the entire event (unlike the NAM).

Due to such differences, there is not complete confidence in the forecast at this time. Snowfall accumulations should be light regardless of which forecast holds true.

Fortunately, the models are more similar with the temperature forecast....

We are expecting strong Cold Air Advection to begin Tuesday night and continue through Wednesday in the wake of the surface front. Temperatures at the 850 mb level are cooling down to -12°C. As a result, you can expect highs on Wednesday to just barely touch the freezing point!

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Have a great day everyone!

-Kelly Ann

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