Active weather pattern ahead

TOPEKA (KSNT) – With El Nino conditions showing up in the Central Pacific Ocean–where surface temperatures in the ocean are above average–activity across the southern United States starts to pick up. This typically leads to a complicated winter pattern for Northeast Kansas.

For starters, it’s not typically a very cold weather pattern here, which puts us on the “fringe” of the southern storm systems and colder air to the north. More often than not, that gives us cool rains, but not always. Each storm system can pull down just enough cold for either snow or ice if the conditions are met. With an impressively strong storm coming off of the Pacific this week and another one on its heels, we will have several things to track in the coming days.

El Nino

In El Nino weather patterns, the storm systems take more of a southern path across the U.S., giving much higher than average rainfall amounts to the Southwest, Texas/Southern Plains, and the Deep South. This pattern can shift northward a bit and include parts of the Midwest from time to time, but it doesn’t always average out wetter here.

In the next 10 days, we have two storm systems that will impact Northeast Kansas. The first major system (labeled as Storm System #1 on the maps) will be impacting the area late in the upcoming weekend. Taking a southern route, this storm should then turn a bit north with the surface low moving right over Kansas by late Sunday.

Jetstream wind projections for Sunday, December 14.
Jetstream wind projections for Sunday, December 14.
Position of low and the expected precipitation by Sunday, December 14.
Position of low and the expected precipitation by Sunday, December 14.

Colder air will likely push south behind that departing system early next week. This will then set up perhaps an even trickier set-up for the area on Thursday, December 18 into Friday, December 19. This next storm (we’ll call it Storm System #2) also takes a southern route, but doesn’t show early signs of the northward turn to it. This would place Northeast Kansas on the northern, colder edge of the storm system with cold air potentially in place before the system arrives.

Jetstream wind projection for Thursday, December 18.
Jetstream wind projection for Thursday, December 18.
Low position and precipitation outlook for Thursday, December 18. NOTE: Types of precipitation are not depicted this far in advance on this model.
Low position and precipitation outlook for Thursday, December 18. NOTE: Types of precipitation are not depicted this far in advance on this model.

 

This is a more conducive set-up for winter weather, but with it 9 days away, it’s only something to be watching. It could end up too far south with the precipitation staying all south of us. It could also lift north and give us another round of cold rain. It could also impact early holiday travels, so we’ll keep you posted on this one.

– Storm Track Chief Meteorologist Matt Miller

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