Could it be? A snow forecast we can all get behind?

We ran a poll a couple of days ago for Groundhog Day asking whether you were ready for spring or wanted some snow. The results were very close to split among the 500 or so votes. In fact, we might have the best of both worlds on deck!

A very warm (but wet) pattern has gotten us through the first half of the week. But now that we are “post-frontal” (the cold front is shifting east of our area), cold air will mix with the next round of precipitation late Thursday, potentially bringing the snow-lovers out there something pretty to stare at out the window. For those that don’t want to bother with it, anything that falls should be relatively harmless. And for those that don’t want to figure out how to shuffle the kids on a school day, the impacts should be minimal enough that that won’t be an issue come Friday morning! Winner winner, French toast dinner! Let’s get into the details.

A cold day is in the cards for Thursday. We may start off with a little light rain in the morning with temperatures near 40 degrees. With an upper level trough approaching, cloud cover sticking around, and northerly wind, temperatures will likely remain steady all day. By mid-afternoon, temperatures aloft will begin to cool as the upper level low/trough moves closer. That trough will also serve as a trigger for the development of precipitation near our area by mid to late afternoon.

An upper level trough (the “valley” in the pressure lines) moves through the area over the next 48 hours according to the mid-day GFS model. That trough is responsible for providing the energy and cold air necessary to produce light snow Thursday evening. (WeatherModels.com)

With temperatures still likely up near 40, initial precip could be a rain/snow mix. But those cooling temperatures aloft will change precipitation over to light snow fairly quickly, despite temperatures still in the mid to upper 30s at ground level. As the sun sets, surface temperatures will cool into the mid 30s as light snow chances continue. The departures of the upper level trough by about midnight will bring precipitation to an end as temperatures approach the freezing mark in the wee hours of Friday morning. So, the high level details:

  • What: Good chance of light snow
  • When: Late afternoon into the overnight hours Thursday (~4pm-2am)
  • How much: Maybe 1/2″ on non-asphalt/concrete surfaces (light dusting)
  • “Boom” forecast: 1″
  • “Bust” forecast: Flurries
The Wednesday evening run of the high-res NAM3 model, showing forecast radar between 8am Thursday and 8am Friday. Snow breaks out late in the afternoon near the Mississippi River and continues into the evening hours. (WeatherModels.com)
What impacts are we expecting? Very few. With temperatures above freezing for most, or all, of the event, most snowflakes melt on contact with the ground. I expect it could be pretty to look at in the evening in the street lights, and if it comes down hard enough we could see a dusting on elevated/exposed surfaces and outdoor objects. Roads should remain above freezing and thus will be no worse than wet, even the elevated ones. 
Low temperatures will be just below freezing Friday morning, but even the roads should stay in pretty good shape. There conceivably could be a few slick spots on elevated roads early Friday morning, but that chance is deemed to be very low given the forecast.
There remains some discrepancy between the various computer models, but nearly all produce snowflakes tomorrow evening. This should be just the kind of event that will appease some of the snow-lovers while also not interfering with the activities of those that prefer it never happen! Stay tuned to our social media channels for the latest information throughout the day Thursday.

Erik Proseus
MWN Meteorologist

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MWN is a NOAA Weather Ready Nation Ambassador Meteorologist Erik Proseus is an NWA Digital Seal Holder

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