Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thursday's update on winter storm potential

T-Minus 1 day and counting...

Note to get everyone over-excited, but the overnight and morning computer model runs are painting a pretty bleak picture for the Mid-South as this storm approaches. The NWS graphics above are indicative of that and show the probabilities of 4" and 8" of snow (upper-left and upper-right, respectively) and 1/4" of ice (lower-right).
My thoughts...
1. Precipitation overnight will be scattered at best, light in intensity, and will likely be in the form of rain with some sleet mixed in.
2. The bulk of the precipitation in the Memphis area looks to fall between 9am and 4pm Friday as a "wintry mix." It will likely start as freezing rain, but sleet and snow will mix in, especially in the afternoon. Areas to the north will have a better chance of seeing more snow/sleet and less ice. North MS will see less snow/sleet, and more rain, with still some significant ice possible.
3. Accumulations could be significant. Total "liquid precip" for this event could go well over an inch. It appears as though up to half of that could be freezing rain, the other half sleet/snow. That would work out to at least a few inches of sleet and snow mixed in with the freezing rain. My forecast as of 10am calls for 1/2" of ice and 2-5" of snow and sleet. The lesser amounts would be over north Mississippi with higher amounts possible for Tipton Co. and points north. As you can tell, Memphis is once again "on the line."
4. Wind will be brisk and gusty. This could exacerbate icing problems as tree branches and power lines may have a hard time holding ice and also getting blown around. Be prepared for the possibility of power outages, which could be extended.
5. Temperatures will not recover much at all on Saturday and only a little on Sunday. It could be early next week before the ice completely melts given the expected conditions and accumulations. Complete details are available in the MWN forecast.
Folks, this is a storm to be taken seriously. Prepare for hazardous driving conditions by mid-day Friday and continuing through Saturday. Plan to be off the roads during this time unless absolutely necessary. Day shift workers may go to work in the morning and think "this is not too bad," then not be able to open their car door when they leave at the end of the day. Be prepared (ice scrapers, plenty of gas, etc.). There is also a distinct possibility of power outages and tree damage due to the weight of the ice.
For comparison purposes, some of you were in Memphis in 1994 and remember the January ice storm. The city received about 1.25" of ice and a couple inches of snow with that storm, so the ice accumulations aren't expected to be nearly that high, but we could receive more snowfall.
MemphisWeather.net will have all the information you need as this storm unfolds. Be sure to follow MWN on Facebook and Twitter. They'll be the easiest to update and communicate to you through.
Finally, I send my apologies for the overnight down time for parts of MemphisWeather.net. Seems like the weather computer decided to go on the fritz AS A WINTER STORM WAS APPROACHING! Most of the site is functioning once again and StormView Radar with its "Winterizer" feature will hopefully be operational again tonight. Hopefully it will hang in there... of course, it's worth noting that if a power outage were to occur, live data and weather alerts would not flow to the website.

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2 comments:

Kevin said...

Just out of curiosity, how much ice accumulation did we have in 1994 ?

MWN/Erik said...

Kevin - 1994 storms brought 1.25" of ice and a couple of inches of snow. Good comparison. I'll edit it into the blog post. Thanks!

--Erik