The orange area is where the blizzard warning continues. Essentially all roads are closed within the blizzard warning area.
The orange area is where the blizzard warning continues. Essentially all roads are closed within the blizzard warning area.
Here is the AccuWeather regional radar at 6pm:
A line thunderstorms is moving east across eastern Texas. Strong winds are possible with a few of the strong thunderstorms. The purple is the transition zone from rain (east) to snow (shades of light blue, west). Very heavy rains are occurring over eastern Kansas.
The blizzard is in full force from northeast New Mexico to central Kansas. Orange = blizzard warning on the map below.
Pink = winter storm warning. Blue = winter weather advisory meaning inconvenient, but not dangerous, winter weather.
Winds are gusting to 50 mph from the north in southeast Colorado, far southwest Kansas, the western Oklahoma Panhandle, and northeast New Mexico.
The map below is the expected snow accumulation from 3pm this afternoon until 5pm Tuesday morning. Note: This does not include snow that fell prior to 3pm. There are very heavy amounts of around a foot between Salina and WaKeeney, KS on Interstate 70.
This will be the last storm update this evening.
The winter storm continues to develop and warnings are being extended. As always, let’s start with the forecast precipitation with this storm:
|Click to enlarge all graphics.|
Severe Thunderstorm and Tornado Risk
While certainly not a situation where major tornadoes are likely to occur, tornadoes and thunderstorms with damaging winds are possible in the area marked “slight” risk. I suggest residents of these areas monitor the weather tomorrow for possible watches and warnings.
Blizzard and Winter Storm
Here is a map of the winter weather warnings and watches as of 8:50pm. The orange is a blizzard warning. Travel is strongly discouraged in these areas. Pink is a winter storm warning. Turquoise is a winter storm watch (mainly northeast Kansas) and the blue is a winter weather advisory.
This much is clear: Do not think about driving through the blizzard warning area — roads will likely be closed and/or impassable. You could get stranded! The amounts over southwest Kansas will be in excess of a foot with wind gusts of 35 mph. Note the blizzard warning now extends over a small part of Interstate 70 between Oakley and Ellsworth, KS.
The ARM model shows giant snowfalls over southwest Kansas and adjacent areas of Colorado and Oklahoma. This big issue with this storm is how far south and how fast the cold air will move. This model has six inches in Wichita because it shows the cold air moving just a little south of the other models. In theory, this should be the better model.
How, the new NAM model this evening has the whole area of snow farther north. Scale same as above.
This model shows almost no snow falling in Wichita. I’m leaning toward the amounts and locations on this model. The important thing about this model, if I am right and it is the more accurate forecast, is that Interstate 70 would receive very heavy snow between roughly Salina and Colby, KS.
Another way to play this is to consider the probability of snow accumulation thresholds at your location. These combine a variety of the models. So, here are the probability maps, the first is the probability of 2″ or more:
This is the probability of 8 inches or more:
So, this update has been based on the very latest information. If you live in the area where heavy snow is forecast, please take this storm seriously.
So, where is the storm at 9:30pm? Via AccuWeather regional radar, it is over the Southwest. Note the bright red echoes (thunderstorms) W and SW of El Paso. This indicates it is a strong storm in the upper atmosphere.
Finally, thunderstorms have developed rapidly in southern Oklahoma which demonstrates that very moist air (more than adequate moisture for heavy snow as the air mass moves northwest) is in place and the instability exists for big thunderstorms tomorrow.
…in the Central Plains, please take a look at this and drive for the conditions.
The range of outcomes on this some has widened somewhat … for the worse.
Here is the forecast snow from the GFS model: Slightly farther north with lighter amounts east of Interstate 135. The red area is 15″ or more!
And, the heavier snow from the North American Model:
One thing is clear: Southwest Kansas, the Oklahoma Panhandle, and the northern Texas Panhandle are going to get nailed. If you have travel plans on U.S. 400, U.S. 54, U.S. 83, or U.S. 50 in those areas you are going to have to go before the storm starts or wait. Given the more than 12″ of snow (with 15″ forecast in some spots by these models) roads will become impassible.
One way to reconcile the differences in all of the models is to use a probabilistic approach. Here is the probability of more than 4″ of snow with the storm for the period from 6pm Sunday evening to 6pm Tuesday evening:
The probability of 4″ or more is 70% or higher all the way east to I-35 from Emporia to the Oklahoma border and on I-135 from Wichita to just south of Salina.
To help you time your travels, here is the simulated winterized radar for 6pm Monday evening. The red echoes northwest of the 32° (thin blue) line is very heavy falling snow.
By 9am Tuesday morning, it is forecast to be snowing over most of northwest Oklahoma, central Kansas, and into northern Missouri.
Please factor this storm into your Christmas travel plans.
The multifaceted winter storm continues to develop. The earlier forecasts seem to be on track. Now, I’d like to fill in some details and answer some questions that have been received during the night.
Yes, some is possible with this storm. Damaging winds and hail are possible with a very slight chance of a relatively weak tornado or two.
AccuWeather has more on the severe thunderstorm threat.
More beneficial moisture will occur with this weather system.
|click to enlarge maps|
Of course, with next week being a period with more than usual travel, everyone is interested in the snow. The basic track and magnitude of the storm seem fairly clear at this point with the usual caveat that things could easily shift 50 mi. or so in either direction, especially since the snow isn’t predicted to begin until Monday.
Let’s begin with a probability of one inch or more map. Just pick out your location and compare it to the scale. That will tell you what the likelihood of an inch or more of snow at your point of interest. Note: These forecasts end at 6am Tuesday. In the eastern part of the forecast area, additional snow may fall after that time.
|Probability of one inch or more of snow.|
Now, the probability of 4″ or more.
Finally, the probability of 8″ or more.
So, there you have it. This should get a lot of people into the Christmas spirit.
I’ll do another complete update tomorrow morning. In the meantime, check back from time to time. In addition to my regular postings, I’ll post anything more about the storm that I think is important.
You often hear of “black ice.” One form of black ice can form when fog deposits ice directly on roadways without precipitation falling from the sky. That is known as “freezing fog.”
A new type of satellite image depicts previously hard-to-detect freezing fog in shades of orange and red. Here is an example showing the freezing fog in the tough terrain of the Pacific Northwest.
|University of Wisconsin, click to enlarge|
More progress. This data will allow us to help keep traveling safer through better monitoring of dangerous conditions.
Here is the rainfall across the U.S. the last two weeks:
|Click to enlarge, NWS data|
While the High Plains re still far too dry, rainfall has significantly eased the drought in the low Plains.
The drought in the Southeast has eased somewhat with good rains forecast the next 5 days (see below):
No serious travel problems in the form of ice, snow, or flooding are expected between now and Sunday night. Snow may fall Monday in parts of the mid-Mississippi Valley.
Things are a mess around NYC but that will clear later this morning. Boston will be a mess until close to noon.
Thunderstorms will be affecting a number of Florida airports.
|AccuWeather regional radar, click to enlarge|
The Central U.S., other than areas of morning fog, should be fine.
Seattle and Portland are dealing with heavy rain and some wind that will last a good part of the day, especially in Portland.
AccuWeather has a great travel weather summary here. Safe travels and enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday.
Here is the forecast radar and areas where temperatures are below freezing (blue line) for 10am EST tomorrow.
The airports from Philadelphia to Boston should be a mess in the morning with numerous flight delays. Things will improve in the afternoon. Snow is likely from northern Upstate New York through Maine with a really messy mix in southern Maine.
The Central U.S. gets a break.
Weather will be improving in Seattle after a windy, rainy night but conditions are likely to cause delays in Portland.
You can get your Thanksgiving travel weather questions answered — live — by AccuWeather’s Henry Margusity. Details here.
Here is the forecast radar (along with the blue 32°F temperature line) for 6pm CST Tuesday:
|click to enlarge|
Except along the Canada-ID-MT border, all of the precipitation is in the form of rain. There is a line of strong thunderstorms from Cleveland through Cincinnati to Nashville to Huntsville. A few thunderstorms will also be affecting the NYC-area airports, if this is a perfect forecast. In the West, heavy rain is forecast for both Seattle and Portland.
Things get a bit better at 6pm Wednesday:
Snow is falling from northern Maine through western NY and down through the mountains of WV. There is enough rain from NYC through Boston that there will be flight delays.
Hat tip: Ryan Maue
According to AccuWeather, 42,500,000 are going to travel for Thanksgiving this year. And, while the drought relief is vital, adverse weather is going to inconvenience many people and be dangerous for some. So, I want to give a comprehensive overview so you can better plan your week.
Tornadoes and Severe Thunderstorms
I’m really worried about this one. As we saw in the Carolinas last week, out-of-season tornadoes can be especially deadly. People don’t associate tornadoes with November and/or people celebrating Thanksgiving from parts of the nation where tornadoes are rare don’t know how to get the information they need then react accordingly.
The tornado and severe thunderstorm threat is geographically limited today.
The threat grows in size tomorrow (Monday):
and spreads east Tuesday.
Please view these as relative probabilities: 30% is a big deal 2 and 3 days out! These storms have the potential to cancel flights and disrupt already packed flights.
So, if you are flying in these areas, PLEASE read my Airline Survival Guide! All of the compliments I have received from fliers who have used the Guide are very gratifying…this advice works. So, put this advice to work for you. Airline hubs in Dallas, Houston, Nashville, and Cincinnati are going to be affected by these storms.
If you are traveling by auto, flooding may be a problem both early this week and again next weekend in the area indicated below in both shades of green. There is the potential the flooding area will enlarge for next weekend over what is indicated here. All extra time and carry a road atlas in case you have to reroute.
There is also a concern that some flooding may develop in parts of Washington and Oregon late in the week.
There is some good news: Outside of the Sierra passes — where it will be very heavy — snow will not be a big problem prior to Thanksgiving day. That will likely be a different story for the return home. I’ll post on that in a day or two. Please check back.
Safe travels and enjoy Thanksgiving with your family and friends. We have so much to be thankful for.
My Airline Survival Guide is my 6th most popular blog post ever. In it, I state,
Here is the story of one man who did exactly that. Three years ago he got to O’Hare in a winter storm, found just about every flight cancelled and turned around and left. He then called Amtrak. His, and his family’s, lives have never been the same.
A comment: I disagree with the author of the story as to the friendliness of Amtrak employees. I have found them to be uniformly pleasant and friendly. Not once have I ever been “nagged at” by an Amtrak employee.
Day three begins with a one hour drive to Hutchinson, northwest of Wichita. Your first stop will the Kansas Cosmosphere and Discovery Center, ranked second only to the Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum in Washington. It is one of just three museums in the world to display flown spacecraft for all three of the U.S. space programs, Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. Want to see the real Apollo 13? Cosmosphere. Want to see Gus Grissom’s Liberty Bell 7 that ended up on the bottom of the ocean and the dimes that Grissom brought on board? The Cosmosphere raised it and restrored it. Fan of Chuck Yeager and The Right Stuff? You’ll see the actual engine that propelled Glamorous Glennis past the sound barrier. Jack Ridley is even memorialized.
They even have a real V-1 and V-2, the rockets that terrorized London in WWII. All of this is designed to be enjoyed in a walking tour of the museum (you don’t need a guide).
After the Cosmosphere, have lunch at the Lone Star Cafe. Then, you have two choices for the afternoon. If you have children, don’t miss the Sedgwick County Zoo back in Wichita. I have been to zoos all over the United States and our zoo is one of the best. Clean and easy to walk, the entire family will love it.
If it is adults only, stay in Hutchinson and visit the Underground Salt Mine Museum (click the link the read the numerous 5-star reviews). Because of the extremely stable, dry environment, it is the storage location of numerous original prints of Hollywood movies, TV shows and historical documents. It is an amazing tour that gets rave reviews.
To cap off your visit, have dinner at one of the many restaurants in northwest Wichita then end your visit with a movie at the Warren Theatre’s IMAX screen, the largest screen of its kind in the world. If you time your visit just right, you may be able to see “Tornado Alley” in IMAX 3-D.
After the movie, have an ice cream treat in the theatre’s restaurant or, if you are from a part of the country that does not have Sonic restaurants, go east on 21st a short distance and enjoy dessert at the drive-in.
That concludes Three Perfect Days in Wichita. I’ll have some concluding remarks tomorrow.
Day One is here. Day Two needs to be any day of the week but Sunday.
Have the Marriott pack some snacks for you and the kids, you are going to spend the day in the car touring the Flint Hills, my favorite part of Kansas.
You are going to head east of El Dorado on U.S. 54 up Kansas Highway 177. You’ll pass El Dorado Lake, keep going for now. Just north of the Lake you’ll intercept the BNSF Railway’s “Transcon” line from Chicago to Los Angeles. It is a great place to watch trains or even pace them in your car as the tracks are right next to 177 in places.
Your destination is the Tallgrass Prairie National Park just north of Strong City on 177. You can watch the National Park Service’s presentation about the Tallgrass Prairie in the giant barn and/or hike the trails and visit both the mansion and the one room schoolhouse, both preserved and furnished as they were when they were in use.
|My nephew, Andrew Vogliardo, in front of the one room schoolhous|
After spending the morning at the Park, it is time for lunch and you are in for a special treat. Double back south down K-177 into Cottonwood Falls and stop at the — Four Diamond! — Grand Central Hotel and Cafe. Owner Suzan Barnes will take great care of you. Their rice & beans is to die for and they go perfectly with a hamburger. Kansas is the #1 beef producing state and you can tell the difference in taste.
After shopping, you are back on the road…
The Flint Hills are a magical area with a wide open beauty difficult to capture with a camera. You are going to see it for yourself as you continue north on 177 to Alta Vista where you turn east on K-4 (danger, if you or your kids get carsick, stay on 177 to Manhattan, it is still a very pretty drive).
Going east on K-4 which then turns north to K-99, you will not only see the gorgeous green hills you will see miles and miles of restored stone fences and you’ll be glad you didn’t have to build them. In Alma, stop at the creamery and try their outstanding cheese.
Continue north on 99 to Wamego, then turn west on U.S. 24 to the home of Kansas State University, the Little Apple, Manhattan, Kansas. The campus is well worth a visit for its native limestone buildings.
|Anderson Hall at KSU|
By now, it should be time for dinner and you are in for another treat: Harry’s Uptown in Manhattan. After lunch at Grand Central Cafe and dinner at Harry’s you’ll say to yourself, “I never knew they had restaurants like this in Kansas!”
Now, you are going to make your way back to Wichita by going south on K-177. Stop and watch the sunset as it sinks below the hills or behind El Dorado Lake. It is fine to get off the main roads unless it has been wet in which case you don’t want to try it without four wheel drive.
Get a good night’s sleep. Lots to see tomorrow in Day 3.
|Downtown Wichita and the Arkansas River|
|Downtown Fountains by the Hyatt|
|Photo taken Wednesday from SkyNews.com.au|
UPDATE 10pm Saturday: I’ve heard from a number of people about this posting, including one that got stuck in the Christmas Blizzard. Here are some additional suggestions:
We understand their desperation but at the same time you would be surprised how many people have no plan, no money, no credit card, no ability to get to another airport by rental car, bus, train, etc. I wouldn’t dream of taking a trip if I didn’t have any money or a credit card and I certainly wouldn’t spend my last dollar while on vacation in the event of unexpected problems. Also a good idea is to have a small bag with essentials – phone charger, sweater or jacket, underwear, towel, toiletries, creature comforts that can make a big difference if stuck at a connection point or anywhere else. I’ve seen people in flip-flops and shorts not suited for the bad weather or cold temperatures.