A storm system is brewing over the Northern Pacific Ocean and one thing is certain, it’s heading toward the Central U.S. by the early part of next week. That may be about where the certainty breaks down. Computer guidance models are slowly converging on some agreement with the storm system, but it’s always a good reminder that when you see postings online 5 or 6 days in advance talking about the projected snow amounts, it’s simply too early to make that call. They are guidance…not a forecast. They are designed to give meteorologists a plausible solution, but there are dozens of these models and they are not in agreement.
We look at these models on a regular basis and watch for the trend of them converging on a solution. When that happens, our confidence level increases on the likelihood of a weather event. In this case, there is strong agreement that a storm will develop and move over the Central United States, but there is very poor agreement on the exact track that the storm will take. This leaves Northeast Kansas on the “all-or-nothing” set up with this storm.
For instance, here are two of the more trustworthy model outputs as of Thursday midday:
Notice the agreement: they both indicate a band of heavy snowfall. Also, notice that they do no agree on the location. There is some overlap for our northwestern counties and may give an indication that those areas are most favored to get hit if either solution verifies.
With that in mind, here is a preliminary outlook for what to expect early next week (the first two days of February).
– Storm Track Chief Meteorologist Matt Miller