UPDATE: Weekend Winter Storm; the good and the bad

2 hours 6 minutes 10 seconds ago Wednesday, January 16 2019 Jan 16, 2019 Wednesday, January 16, 2019 7:23:00 PM CST January 16, 2019 in Weather
By: Kenton Gewecke, KOMU 8 Chief Meteorologist
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COLUMBIA - Another winter storm is on the way for Friday, January 18 through the weekend. Please note we are 2 days out and this system is still developing over the Pacific Ocean. Once it gets over the west coast  on Thursday we will be able to send a weather balloon into they system and get better data. However, there is a LOT we do know. Please stay tuned as we track this winter storm all week on KOMU 8 newscasts, online, and on the KOMU WX app.

FORECAST CHANGES

This forecast is as of Wednesday evening. Since Tuesday the forecast has only changed a bit, mainly in temperatures. At this time I do not expect a deepening trough to allow arctic air to push as far south, meaning temps and wind chills won't be as bad as the last update, though they will still be cold. I have written a new forecast outline below:

THE RUNDOWN

While we only have moderate confidence in many aspects of this storm, there is still a lot we do know. This is what we are watching for, what is likely, and what may change:

The moisture will begin to slowly move in Friday afternoon. It will start with drizzle Friday afternoon. As of now, it looks like this will be normal drizzle with temps above freezing south of I-70. There is a chance for areas along and north of I-70 to experience freezing drizzle. It depends on the freezing line of our temps, and we cannot be sure about that yet.

Precipitation will increase in the evening, between 6pm and 9pm. Whether you see rain or snow depends on the freezing line, of course. We cannot be sure where it will land in the evening. For now, we expect it to be near I-70 with snow to the north and rain to the south. This line will push south as the night goes on. Again, that freezing line location could change.

Snow will continue through Saturday morning, becoming lighter and thinning out in the afternoon. Snow should exit Saturday evening, if not before.

Temperatures will start near freezing, so the early snow of this event will still be wet and heavy. Temperatures will cool throughout the day on Saturday with temps in the 20s in morning cooling into the 10s by the evening when snow exits, and dipping into the single digits by sunrise Sunday. 

It will also be windy. This will lead to drifting snow, depending on accumulation. Winds may gust near 35+ mph from the north or northwest. A blizzard warning is issued when winds gust at a minimum 35+ mph for 3 or more hours, blowing snow and severely reducing visibility. Regardless of the National Weather Service issuing a blizzard warning or not, visibility will be reduced.

Also due to the breeze, wind chills will be the coldest we've experienced since early 2018. With actual temperatures in the 10s and 00s, wind chills are expected to be in the -00s for most of mid-Missouri. Should winds gusts higher, those numbers will go down. While this will be very cold, with the proper layering of clothes, wind chills in the negative single digits shouldn't be life threatening.

Although we will have bitter air rushing in, we will get mostly sunny skies on Sunday. This will be the first sunshine most of us have seen since before the first winter storm.

SOMETHING ELSE TO CONSIDER

We still have inches of snow on the ground. This has been thawing and refreezing all week, making it hard. This is very heavy and can weigh down roofs, decks and trees. Be careful when walking so you don't have hard snow falling on top of you. 

More ice and rain will only add to the weight of the snow. It will do very little to actually melt the snow. I do not expect much more snow to melt before the new snow arrives. I also don't see a great chance for any of this snow to melt through the remainder of January. Temperatures will remain cold.

ACCUMULATION

At this time we anticipate 2-5" throughout mid-Missouri.

Because the snow will likely start falling in the north first, we expect the most snowfall to be in the north with decreasing amounts as you head south.

If you want to know why we still aren't sure about accumulation amount, besides the fact that this system is still over the Pacific Ocean, it's because we still don't know where the freezing line will be. Will we see more rain at the beginning and change to snow after a lot of the rain has fallen or will it change to snow sooner and we'll have higher snow accumulations? We simply do not know yet.

Still, snow and wind are likely on Saturday (if not Friday night). This will reduce visibility at the least and create a blizzard at most. Blowing snow will also create drifting and this will make it very difficult to measure accumulation totals. 

We are already living through the 5th snowiest January on record. If COU receives more than 6.6" during the remainder of the month, it will be the snowiest in the past 130 years. 

TRAVEL

Friday needs to be watched for freezing drizzle in the afternoon for areas along and north of I-70. Though this is on the low end of possibilities at this point, it isn't out of the question. Otherwise, Friday evening will continue to decrease great travel conditions from north to south of the freezing line turns rain into snow.

On Saturday, snow will continue in the morning, thinning in the afternoon and exiting in the evening, if not earlier. Winds will reduce visibility and create drifting. Travel is not encouraged Friday night through at least Saturday morning. Conditions should be fine by Saturday evening depending on road crews. 

Stay tuned right here, on air and on the free KOMU 8 Weather & Traffic app for the latest forecast updates.

Download the KOMU WX App on Apple and Android devices for the latest video updates, hour-by-hour forecast, interactive radar, future radar, live streaming newscasts, plus our exclusive live traffic grid.

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