Snow chances for the week ahead

This time of year all weather talk turns to whether or not there will be a White Christmas? To some, that means snow falling on Christmas Day, while others take that more loosely as snow on the ground for Christmas Day. Either way, here’s a look at the chances the way things are stacking up right now.

First things first, we have a good chance for light to moderate snow for the area starting Wednesday evening into Thursday morning. Although the amounts look to range from 1-2″ over most of the area, some patches of freezing drizzle may occur after the snow wraps up on Thursday. This could cause some slick roads even after the snow has ended.

Futuretrack depiction of where snow is expected for Wednesday night into Thursday morning.
Futuretrack depiction of where snow is expected for Wednesday night into Thursday morning.

After that system passes by, several other storm systems are moving across the Pacific. Each of these have a different projected path that they will take as the move toward North America.

Several storms are space apart over the Pacific Ocean, all moving east or northeast at this time.
Satellite picture late Tuesday afternoon of several storms that are spaced apart over the Pacific Ocean, all moving east or northeast at this time.

With the first storm west of California looking to take a far southern U.S. path, eventually hugging the northern Gulf Coast, that will be too far south to impact Kansas and we have actually taken all precipitation chances out of the forecast for that system with its southern route.

The next one in line looks to be on a northern route and will be starved of decent moisture. Even if it can produce some showers over the area late Monday or Tuesday of next week, we should be well above freezing with only light rain chances, if anything.

Finally, the third system looks to move into the Northern or Central Plains by Christmas or the day after Christmas. This one still isn’t taking the most favorable of paths for snow for Kansas.

A storm system currently near Japan will move, fall apart, then reform before arriving in North America around Christmas.
A storm system located near Japan as of late Tuesdaywill move, fall apart, then reform before arriving in North America around Christmas.

Here’s a closer look at the project path of the storm system as it moves toward Alaska, then falls apart and redevelops into a system that will dive southeast toward the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies.

Overall path of storm system currently located near Japan as of late Tuesday.
Overall path of storm system currently located near Japan as of late Tuesday.

The only real hitch to this for those hoping for a White Christmas is that storms coming in from the Northwest are not our favored snow-makers. Here’s what path we’d find on our bigger winter storms:

Long Path of System2

Compare that to the path this one looks to take over the U.S.:

Long Path of System3

So what can change between now and then? Everything! This system has thousands of miles to cover and slight fluctuations to its speed can change the arrival time by a day or more. If it were to turn farther north, we might see nothing out of it. A more southern route could favor snow near Christmas, but that’s not been the model indications so far. When you boil it all down, there is a system to watch, but I wouldn’t get hopes up too high for a White Christmas just yet. Thursday morning’s snow this week will likely melt away long before the holiday and next week’s storm system aren’t classic winter storm makers either, but at least there is a storm system to track between now and then that gives a glimmer of hope.

So when it comes to having a White Christmas, I guess you could quote the famous movie line: “So, you’re saying there’s a chance!”

– Storm Track Chief Meteorologist Matt Miller

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