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Weather Blog: Beneficial Winter Weather

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Posted at 11:26 AM, Jan 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-02 12:26:37-05

Good Saturday bloggers,

We have just seen two winter storms during the last 5 days. They did cause some issues, but also brought much benefit. We will talk about the benefit below.

First, here is a recap of our most recent storm.

Fortunately, in Kansas City, the snow was preceded by mostly sleet and not freezing rain. There is a saying that "sleet pings and freezing rain clings." Sleet is a frozen rain drop that bounces when it hits the ground. It does make roads slick quick. Freezing rain is liquid water that freezes on contact with below freezing surfaces. This causes a coating/glaze on all surfaces including trees and power lines. Trees and power lines begin to bend and and snap when there is around 1/2" of ice or more coated on them. Sometimes when there is just freezing rain, roads can be wet as the water can be 35-40 degrees and if it is coming down heavy, the flowing water can prevent ice formation. Any sleet mixed in and roads become a mess.

You can see from our ice estimation map that enough ice accumulated to cause power outages from around Harrisonville, MO and points to the southeast.

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Snowfall amounts of 2" to 5" were widespread from east central Kansas to northwest Missouri. There was a band of 4"-6" from northeast of Richmond, MO to near Desoto, KS.

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Officially, for Kansas City, the total was 2.2" recorded at KCI airport. This is a bit hard to believe for two reasons. One, KCI was close to or in the 4"-6" band that was verified by people living in the area. Two, KCI recorded 0.57" of liquid for the storm and they did not see much sleet. So, 0.57" would equate to 5.7" of snow which fits better. Now, that being said, we will go with total of 2.2" which puts us at 3.3" for the season. This is 3" below where we should be for January 2nd and about 15" below our seasonal average.

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These last two winter storm certainly caused some issues. The first one brought a significant ice storm to northeast Kansas and northwest Missouri on December 29th where around 1/2" of ice accumulated on trees and power lines. There were thousands of people without power.

There was also a major benefit from the two storm systems. During the 4 day period from December 29th to January 1st we received 1.76" of rain/melted ice, snow. This is about the same amount we received during the previous 62 days. 1.78" of rain was recorded between October 27th and December 28th. Those 62 days were preceded by a dry September and August.

The prolonged dry weather created an increasing moderate drought in the area. So, these two storms halted the droughts progress and might have even taken a bite or two out of it. Also, snow is one of the best ways to increase soil moisture as the melting snow slowly seeps into the ground.

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Now that we have these two storm systems under our belt, we need to follow them up with more precipitation so that we can continue to work on reducing and ending the drought. There are two storm systems to track the next 5 days.

STORM SYSTEM #1: This one is actually timed for today. A new upper level low is forming and tracking out of the southwest USA. It has been robbed of moisture from the Friday storm. So, it will be producing areas of light snow and some rain to far southeast Kansas and the southern 1/2 of Missouri. Our area may see a snow shower or two, but nothing significant. Highs will be in the low to mid 30s.

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The storm system will move east Saturday night-Sunday and will pick up more moisture as it moves east of the Mississippi river. So, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio may see .10" to .50" of rain/melted ice and snow.

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If you look at our region for 5 AM Sunday you can see we are in clouds. Let's take a closer look at them.

You can see the outline of some of the lakes, creeks and streams in the clouds. This indicates that not only will we see low clouds, but we could see some dense fog. If temperatures are below freezing the fog can become freezing fog. If the freezing fog is dense, you can get some slick surfaces and the trees will be coated in a thin layer of ice. It will make for a pretty winter scene. The Chiefs play at 3:25 PM and any fog should be gone, but the low clouds may hang tough.

It is amazing what adding soil moisture which adds moisture to the low levels can do. If we missed one or both of the last two storm systems there would be almost no chance of fog/freezing fog.

The first storm and the fog will not bring much precipitation to our area. The second storm might be different.

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STORM SYSTEM #2: This one is timed for next Wednesday and Thursday and has potential to bring .25" to 1" of liquid precipitation. This data has it in the form of rain with a few patches of snow. We will be watching this closely as a few degrees colder then this storm is mostly a wet snow.

.25" to 1" of rain is quite a bit of precipitation for this time of year as January is on average our driest month of the year. We average 1.07" of rain/melted ice and snow. This is due to the fact that cold air hold less moisture and it is hard to get a big precipitation event in January.

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Have a great weekend, Happy New Year, enjoy the pretty winter scenes and stay healthy.