Weather Blog: KC metro could see freezing rain, sleet, snow later this week

Posted at 8:23 AM, Jan 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-08 11:37:32-05

Good Wednesday bloggers,

We have a challenging forecast for Friday and Saturday as we track a potent storm system from the southwest USA and a cold blast coming from the north. The track of the storm and speed of the cold air will go a long way in determining which locations see rain, freezing rain, sleet and/or snow and how much falls. Here is our latest thinking, but keep in mind this is not set yet.

THURSDAY: It will be windy and mild with highs close to 60° after lows around 50°. South winds may gust to 40 mph. Drizzle, showers and a few thunderstorms will increase during the afternoon and evening from around I-35 and points east.

THURSDAY NIGHT-FRIDAY MORNING: The cold front that comes through Thursday evening will stall and become a warm front just south of KC. Rain and thunderstorms will increase across southeast Kansas and much of Missouri. The cold air will be heading south.

FRIDAY AFTERNOON: This is where the forecast becomes quite complicated. Eastern Kansas and northwest Missouri are on the edge of the storm as the colder air heads south. You can see this is when our temperatures drop to around freezing. If the storm is a bit farther south, then we will be in light to no rain as the colder air moves in. If the storm is farther north, we could see heavy rain as the temperatures drop below freezing. The snow at this point is on the northwest edge of the storm.

FRIDAY NIGHT-SATURDAY: The storm is really coming together as it will be producing heavy to severe thunderstorms, ice and snow. You can see KC is on the northwest edge of the snow. This illustrates quite well what we mean when we say the track is critical. There is a sharp cut-off between significant snow and nothing with sunshine.

CHIEFS SUNDAY: Now, regardless of where the storm tracks, it will be dry on Sunday. It will be cold with lows 10°-15° and highs in the low to mid 30s. The wind will be southeast at about 10-15 mph.

RAIN/MELTED ICE/SNOW FORECAST: Here is another illustration on why the track of the storm is critical. Rainfall amounts with this storm will range from .01" to 5" across Missouri. In the KC area amounts could range from .25" to 1.50".

SNOWFALL FORECAST: This is wild too as amounts will range from 0" to almost 10". So, you can see how every mile north or south on the track will make a huge difference on how much rain, ice and snow you will receive on your yard or farm.

Here is a quick lesson on precipitation types. The 4 main types of precipitation are rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow. We could see all 4 Friday and Saturday. Most of these precipitation types start as snow in the clouds. Rain occurs when temperatures are above freezing through the entire layer from cloud to ground level. Snow falls when temperatures are below freezing from cloud to ground. Then, you have the middle ground. Freezing rain occurs when the snowflakes in the clouds fall into a large above freezing layer, melt to rain drops and then reach a below freezing surface. The drops do not have a chance to freeze before they reach the surface. So, this is liquid water freezing on contact with surfaces. This precipitation type, when over 1/4"-1/2" can cause widespread power outages. Sleet occurs when the snowflakes melt to rain drops on the way down, but they encounter a deeper layer below freezing. So, the rain drops freeze before reaching the ground. They become ice pellets and bounce off of surfaces. They do not cause the glaze of freezing rain. Sometimes you can get freezing rain and sleet at the same time and this causes a mess all over the place.

So, you can see why this is a tough forecast. We are not only on the edge of the storm, but we are dealing with all 4 precipitation types.

Stay with 41 Action News and we'll keep you advised.