Now I remember why I hate winter. Winter weather forecasts! They are difficult, demanding and you don’t forget when I’m wrong.
You don’t. I live with it.
There is an especially difficult forecast coming this weekend for Nebraska and much of the Plains. A low pressure system moving in from the south will wedge a pocket of warm air above very cold air at ground level. The result is raindrops hitting the surface, freezing on contact.
It’s an ugly setup. The ice weight can bring down trees, power lines, (and my boss’s fear) even radio towers. It coats road surfaces eliminating most traction. You can’t drive on ice.
Ice storms aren’t rare, but they are unusual. That’s because so many parameters in the atmosphere must be exactly right at the same time. For me it means extra forecasts to follow the drops and take their temperature from cloud to ground. A few degrees change anywhere in the atmosphere could mean sleet, snow or even rain. So many places to go wrong.
A good ice storm forecast starts with a reliable QPF (quantatative precipitation forecast). It’s our Achilles heel. The morning and afternoon NAM model vary by a factor of six in how much liquid will fall over Norfolk, Nebraska. That’s not helpful.
A few days ago it looked like Grand Island might get all snow, easier to deal with than ice. Now they’re progged to get the most ice!
There are 66 forecast hours before this storms makes Nebraska. The precipitation just moved into the time domain of the NAM, so along with the GFS a chance for more numbers… more consensus or confusion. In the last 24 hours the HRRR (high resolution rapid refresh) adds to the fun. They seldom all agree.
This is so confounding at times NOAA puts out bulletins with their advice on which model seems most trustworthy: when and where.
Sunday’s ice storm is likely. The question is who gets the most and will it rise to “State of Emergency” status or be much ado about nothing?
4 thoughts on “Ice Baby, Ice”
Hey Geoff! Do you remember the Blizzard of ’78? That was a fun week!! I had national guards picking me up for work and bringing me home!
And – I forgot_ the Blizzard of ’78 was this week!!
Not surprised amount your post. Matt Scott mentioned that storm while he was doing the forecast this evening. He was mentioning possible travel delays because of the severity of the storm.
Geoff; This is why folks everywhere depend on highly skilled and dedicated professionals like you for forecast. Sure if we hear it’s going to rain bring an umbrella and we end up carrying it around all day we blame the weather guy, but when it’s a big storm, really bad weather, we turn to our weather people to see us through. The folks in Nebraska are in good hands. You’re too focused, too dedicated to ever let your viewers down. I’m happy to see you are still the weather guy I loved working with through those awful New England storms and those beautiful Connecticut summer nights. Sleep well Nebraska. PEACE