FAIRWAY, KS (KCTV) -- Heads up! A Winter Storm Watch is in effect starting late Thursday night and continuing through the day Friday.
We are going to see a veritable potpourri of precipitation during our next winter storm.
Our next winter storm is going to cause a lot of headaches. I'm not exaggerating. It could be more impactful than last week's storm. And it's all because of what's happening on Thursday before the storm even arrives.
Look at the map below. See the chunk of cold air over the northern plains - that's headed our way. Thursday the high temperature will struggle to reach freezing, and Thursday night the temperature falls into the 20s.
That means street temperatures will fall below 32 degrees. It means any rain that falls early Friday morning will have a better chance than last week of freezing on the streets, trees, and power lines. But it's not just freezing rain. This storm could bring some accumulating snowfall and sleet to parts of the region before the changeover to freezing rain. The mixed bag of wintry weather is supposed to change to all rain Friday afternoon but that will be too late to prevent the headaches of Friday morning's rush hour. Let's talk about why we're going to see a wide variety of precipitation.
First, we've got the cold air moving into the Upper Mississippi River Valley. Second, a storm currently off the west coast, will move into the Rockies and position itself perfectly to bring anything from snow to rain across the region.
You can already see the moisture flowing from the Pacific Ocean into central and southern plains on Wednesday’s satellite map. This is going to continue until the storm arrives late Thursday night or early Friday morning.
The moisture streaming into the area will at first be in the form of extensive cloud cover. That should lock our cold air in place and insure that surface temperatures stat below 32 degrees. When the storm moves into the Rockies, the precipitation will begin to fall. Initially the air aloft over Missouri and Kansas will be cold enough that the warmer, moist air from the Pacific will turn to snow before it reaches the surface. So Friday morning around 6 a.m., when the moisture arrives, it looks like it will be snow.
The area of snow will move over northern Missouri by sunrise Friday. At the same time, warmer air will continue to spill overtop the cold air at the surface. The warm air will mix with the cold air. It will mix enough that soon the snowflakes will begin to melt but refreeze before they reach the surface. So, it appears snow will change to sleet.
The warmer, Pacific air will continue to flow into the storm, eroding the column of cold air away from the top, down. Sleet and snow will melt into rain and hit the ground as rain. But the surface temperature will be at 32 degrees or colder. By mid-morning freezing rain is expected to begin and continue into midday and possibly into the afternoon.
The freezing rain on top of snow and sleet will cause immediate travel problems. Plus, it could stick to power lines and trees. Depending on how much freezing rain falls we could have a mess on our hands by afternoon Friday with power outages and lots of accidents. Our in-house model predicts this much ice will accumulate Friday morning.
On top of the freezing rain and sleet, here's how snow could possibly fall before the changeover to icy weather begins.
Temperatures are expected to rise above freezing Friday evening. But my concern is the pavement and other surface temperatures may warm slower, causing the freezing rain to last longer. So, this storm appears that it could have a bigger impact than last week’s storm. I told you this was going to cause a lot of headaches.
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