First stab at the weekend winter storm

Before we get into the weekend weather details, we do have a system moving into western Ohio this morning that will bring minor snow to east-central Ohio this evening. While it won’t be a big deal, it could result in some slick spots on the roads later tonight.

I can’t rule out a few flurries or light snow anytime today, but for the most part, we’ll remain dry. Snowfall may be moderate at times after sunset and tonight. Hi-res futurecast radar through midnight:

The snow will push east after midnight tonight. Total snow out of this should be around an inch.

Friday will be cloudy, calm and uneventful with seasonal temperatures

WEEKEND WINTER STORM GAME PLAN – SUBJECT TO CHANGE
Saturday – While there may be a light snow shower sometime through the morning, the main area of snow showers will begin to move in after lunchtime Saturday. Conditions will deteriorate quickly during the afternoon. Initially, the snow will be heavy and wet. As our storm progresses Saturday evening and night, the snow will become lighter as temperatures get colder.

Travel will become difficult Saturday evening as snow accumulates on the roads. As winds steadily increase and snow becomes lighter, blowing snow will cause visibility problems.

Sunday – Snow is likely to continue into early Sunday morning but the trend will be decreasing snowfall through the morning. HOWEVER, it will be very windy with winds gusting to 40 mph at times. Blowing and drifting snow will remain a problem. Temperatures will also be headed downward and wind chills will become brutally cold.

Martin Luther King Day – It will be bright and sunny but brutally cold. Air temperatures will only reach the low teens for the afternoon high. Gusty winds will mean below-zero wind chills. Air temperatures Sunday night and Monday night will be in the single digits.

A Little Good News – Recent model runs have sped the storm up so snow looks to end quickly Sunday morning.

WHAT COULD SCREW THIS UP?
There are factors that need to be pinned down yet – primarily how far north/south the system tracks as it travels east through the region. Too far north and warm air enters the picture which would mean more rain/sleet/freezing rain. That would work to reduce snow amounts. A shift in the north/south track by as little as 10 to 25 miles will have a big impact on precipitation types and snow totals.

The GFS model (US) has the system far enough north that the rain/freezing rain line runs pretty much north of I-70. The European model has it farther south – just north of the Ohio River. Both have been consistent with their respective tracks. I strongly suspect the GFS will bow to the European idea in later model runs.

LOCAL IMPACTS
While folks tend to focus on snow amounts but whether we end up with 6 inches or 12 inches of snow, local impacts will be high. Travel will become difficult as Saturday unfolds. Strong wind Saturday night and Sunday may cause power outages. We will have very cold temperatures and brutal wind chills Sunday and Monday. Blowing and drifting snow will bring visibility issues.

INITIAL SNOW FORECAST
The snow forecast will be a little broad for now. The reason being that there is still some disagreement between the major models regarding the north/south position of the storm. I expect these differences to be less pronounced by tomorrow.

This is an initial forecast. Changes are likely. Keep up with the latest information.

Just to show why, here is the first forecast from NWSWPC 72 hours out…

CONFIDENCE
Right now I have medium confidence in my initial forecast.

A LITTLE LOCAL WEATHER HISTORY
Most people have a poor perspective when it comes to our past weather. One factor that goes into making a winter storm forecast is knowing how often we actually see big snow events here in the east-central Ohio region. The reality is really not very often. Records show that the last time a big snow event occurred in New Philadelphia was back on April 4th, 1987 when we got 16 inches of snow.

Even 10-inch snowfalls are that common (24hour period) – 1934, 1944, 1956, and 1987.

I do have to mention that snowfall records for our area are a bit sketchy. There are many gaps in the local weather records. But, I think it’s safe to say that really big snow events are pretty rare here. That’s not saying a big snowstorm can’t happen. I’m just saying that – historically – it rarely happens here.

BOTTOM LINE
This is going to be a big storm. Regardless of how much snow we receive, it is going to impact your weekend – and not in a good way.

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