Given the expectations Mid-Southerners had this week heading into our second winter storm of the month, many were not disappointed in the results and forecasts largely ended up verifying pretty well. The biggest complaints though probably came from Big Shelby, where predicted snowfall just didn't materialize. Forecasters knew heading into this one that "the line" that divided the snow-have's from the snow-have-not's would be very close to the city and that the infamous "I-40 corridor" would likely be about where the precipitation "classes" were divided. That's almost exactly how it happened.
Take a look at the graphic above for selected precipitation totals. To illustrate the point, check out the snow measurement in Tipton County (from Atoka and Brighton, north of Shelby County) - 6". Then look at the Millington total in northern Shelby County - 2.5" of snow and sleet. Bartlett, in central Shelby County, ended up at about 1.5" of snow, sleet, and freezing rain. The Memphis airport, southern Shelby, had mostly freezing rain and got 0.75" of liquid water equivalent (melted precip).
Areas north of the bottom row of counties in Tennessee got mostly snow and reports were consistently 6-9" (more north). If the precipitation had been all snow along the southern tier of counties, Memphians would also be buried under 6-8" of snow. Going further south, areas south of Tupelo to Oxford to Tunica got mostly rain (with a transition zone of about 1/4" of ice through the towns mentioned).
This shows just how difficult forecasting winter precipitation can be in this area of the world. Over about a 75-mile zone, precipitation type changed from all snow to mostly rain, with a mix between. Even 24-48 hours out, that zone can be very hard to define as there are so many variables that can contribute to just how the atmospheric temperature profile will play out.
As far as impacts, in the metro area, power outages reached over 20,000 last night in MLGW's service area (outage map), but have leveled out near 5,000-6,000 this morning. Power outages are still possible today with ice-covered branches and power lines and a wind that will be steady enough to possibly down some of those branches and lines. Roadways are treacherous and travel should be avoided if possible today. With a high in the upper 20s, conditions won't improve much if at all. Even Sunday could still see hazardous roads as temperatures bottom out in the teens tonight and only climb to near 30 by afternoon. Full sun will help in the melting process somewhat. Finally, by Monday, we should see some recovery and melting as temps climb into the 40s.
My deep appreciation to all of you who count on MemphisWeather.net, the MWN Blog, our Facebook site and Twitter feed for your weather information during adverse weather. Thank you all. Stay warm and be safe!