Happy Monday to you! Hope you enjoyed the weekend and all that milder air we enjoyed over the last several days. I know Friday was not the best of scenarios for many, with wind damage and power outages in many locations. Saturday was warm and calm, and Sunday slight cooler.
Now we turn our focus to the return of winter weather. There is another month of winter ahead, and we’ll get our money’s worth this week. The panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma will set the stage for our next winter storm in West Michigan. While it’s still 48 hours away, there remain several uncertainties. The questions you automatically want to know answers to: “How much snow are we going to get?!” “Am I going to have to go to school/work on Wednesday?!” The answers to those questions depend mainly on one thing: storm track.
To give you an idea at a few of the things meteorologists look at when predicting snowstorms, or any storms for that matter, I’ve included a look at several forecast models at the same timeframe. The big red “L” signifies a center of low pressure. Winds around these disturbances flow in a counter clockwise motion. So areas to the south and east of this storm will be much warmer than areas to the north and west of these systems. One example you’ll recall from recent memory is Friday. Similar setup, but West Michigan was on the warmer side of the storm and our temps were propelled in the 50s and 60s. You’ll notice that we’re on the colder side this time. All models have us in the colder side, so that’s not something we’re debating going forward It’s the storm TRACK. Notice the similarities between the top and bottom photos. The first image is the GFS model and the second is our in house RPM model. The tracks are very similar and this would be a setup with a good amount of snow for West Michigan
This model, the “NAM,” has areas near Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, and Coldwater on the very northwestern edge, which would create a glancing blow of snow for these areas.
Another factor to note is that we’re dealing with warm, moist air being transported from the Gulf of Mexico. Depending on when the full transition from warmer air to completely colder air arrives, you’ll see a difference in snow totals then as well. If you get rain for an hour or two, you obviously won’t see high snow totals in these areas.
To recap: accumulating snow is likely Wednesday, totals are just uncertain so far! The amount really does depend on the track of these storms. When the rain transitions fully to snow is key in our final amounts. I hope a brief rundown of a few of the things our weather team looks at on a daily basis helps you to understand our winter forecasting, and even forecasting in general. I’m certain Kevin, Joe, and Ty will have more on this storm later on this afternoon and evening as we hammer down totals with the newest model data coming in this afternoon. For the latest forecast, you can always visit the FOX 17 Weather page. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me on Facebook. Have a great day!