Kent Brockman: The National Weather Service has upgraded Springfield's blizzard from "Winter Wonderland" to a "Class 3 Kill-Storm"!
Marge: I don't like the sound of that "class 3".
-- Today's pointless quote from "The Simpsons"
Tomorrow's big storm, Winter Storm "Flanders", could easily be the storm of the year, if not longer. The official forecast from the National Weather Service calls for 6-10 inches of snow for Cape Girardeau. Here's their wording:
TONIGHT... SLEET AND SNOW HEAVY AT TIMES. SNOW AND SLEET ACCUMULATION OF 4 TO 6 INCHES. LOWS IN THE LOWER 20S. NORTHEAST WINDS 10 TO 15 MPH. CHANCE OF PRECIPITATION NEAR 100 PERCENT.
TUESDAY... SNOW SLEET AND A CHANCE OF FREEZING RAIN. SNOW AND SLEET ACCUMULATION OF 2 TO 3 INCHES. HIGHS IN THE UPPER 20S. NORTH WINDS AROUND 10 MPH. CHANCE OF PRECIPITATION 90 PERCENT.
TUESDAY NIGHT... CLOUDY. SNOW LIKELY A CHANCE OF SLEET AND FREEZING RAIN IN THE EVENING...THEN A CHANCE OF SNOW AFTER MIDNIGHT. MINOR SNOW ACCUMULATIONS. TOTAL SNOW AND SLEET ACCUMULATIONS 6 TO 10 INCHES. LOWS AROUND 19. NORTH WINDS 5 TO 10 MPH. CHANCE OF PRECIPITATION 60 PERCENT.
WEDNESDAY... PARTLY SUNNY. A 20 PERCENT CHANCE OF SNOW IN THE
MORNING. HIGHS IN THE UPPER 20S. NORTHWEST WINDS AROUND 5 MPH IN
THE MORNING SHIFTING TO THE SOUTHWEST IN THE AFTERNOON.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT... PARTLY CLOUDY. LOWS AROUND 15.
THURSDAY... MOSTLY CLOUDY. HIGHS IN THE MID 30S.
It appears that the temperatures will be cold enough at Cape and points north for mostly snow, instead of freezing rain or sleet -- I suppose that could be considered good news. Notice that we won't get above freezing (and barely at that) until Thursday, so this mess won't be going anywhere soon.
Points to the south are likely to see heavy ice and sleet, with a chance of receiving nearly an inch of ice accumulation. That would rival last February's big ice storm.
The forecast discussion from the NWS Paducah office compares this system to the December 2004 snowstorm that brought a foot of snow to Cape and 22.3 inches to Evansville, Indiana. That storm shut down I-24 near Paducah, stranding an estimated 1,000 motorists in their cars.
"Flanders" will have plenty of moisture to work with. Here's the latest national forecast graphic showing the liquid-equivalent precipitation for the next three days:
Cape is squarely in the "purple" region with 1.5 to 2.0 inches, while the Missouri Bootheel could see almost 3 inches. At peak efficiency, a snowstorm like this could produce 15 inches of snow for each inch of liquid equivalent, giving us over two feet! The good news is that this storm is unlikely to be that efficient, plus some of the precip will fall as Winter Mix Surprise (sleet or freezing rain), reducing the total. Maybe.
The track of the low-pressure system is critical for any winter storm. Right now it looks almost perfect for a big snow in Southeast Missouri as the storm center passes just south of Memphis. However, if it shifts to the south, we won't get as much snow, and if it shifts to the north, we'll see a monster ice storm instead.
One other thing to note: The technical discussion from the NWS office in Springfield, Missouri, hints at the possibility of thundersnow. Don't be surprised if we see some lightning and thunder out of this thing.