Our coming winter storm, combined with last-minute Christmas shopping frenzy, is combining to create a level of insanity at local stores that hasn't been seen in ages... or, at least, since Black Friday.
Right now the BREAD Index -- or Blizzard Response Eats Acquisition Degrees -- is rapidly climbing. Here are the different BREAD levels:
Degree 1. Buy one loaf of bread
Degree 2. Buy one tray of bread
Degree 3. Buy enough bread to last until Memorial Day
Degree 4. Ransack entire contents of bakery aisle
Degree 5. Holdup every bread truck within 200 miles and/or grind all available flower to make own bread
The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch for most of the area. Their bulletin states:
CURRENT INDICATIONS ARE THAT THE AXIS OF HEAVIEST SNOWFALL WILL BE OVER SOUTHEAST MISSOURI AND SOUTHERN ILLINOIS. SNOWFALL AMOUNTS OF 10 TO 15 INCHES ARE POSSIBLE WITHIN THIS AXIS OF HEAVY SNOW. ANY CHANGE IN THE FORECAST TRACK OF THE LOW WOULD CAUSE THE HEAVY SNOW AREA TO SHIFT...SO CONTINUE TO MONITOR UPDATED FORECASTS.
* SNOW IS EXPECTED TO BEGIN EARLY ON CHRISTMAS NIGHT...POSSIBLY STARTING LATE IN THE DAY OVER SOUTHEAST MISSOURI. HEAVY SNOW AND STRONG NORTH WINDS FROM 20 TO 30 MPH WILL OCCUR MOST OF THE NIGHT. THE SNOW WILL END EARLY WEDNESDAY...BUT STRONG WINDS WILL CONTINUE.
* INTENSE SNOWFALL RATES AND STRONG WINDS MAY CAUSE VERY DIFFICULT TRAVEL CONDITIONS. VISIBILITY WILL BE LOWER THAN ONE HALF MILE...WITH LOCAL WHITEOUT CONDITIONS POSSIBLE.
* INTENSE SNOWFALL RATES...ALONG WITH BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW COULD POTENTIALLY MAKE TRAVEL IMPOSSIBLE. WINDS WILL GUST OVER 30 MPH AT TIMES. THIS LOOKS TO BE A PARTICULARLY DANGEROUS STORM SYSTEM.
The computer models, as usual, are flip-flopping more than room full of politicians. The projected path of the storm's center of low pressure is almost perfect for a big snow in Southeast Missouri.
However, if the track shifts slightly to the north, then we will see rain instead of snow. And if the track shifts to the south, then most of the precipitation will be shoved to our south. That's why forecasting these storms is such a crapshoot.
One of the computer models (the NAM) has been wanting to send the heavy snow to our northwest, closer to St. Louis. But the latest version nudges the axis of snow closer in our direction, with Cape Girardeau County seeing 12+ inches and the Farmington area potentially seeing 18+ inches!
The GFS model, which has been consistently forecasting a big snow since Friday, also shows Cape Girardeau getting 12+ inches, with northern Bollinger County getting the heaviest amounts (15 inches).
(As I post this, the latest version of the GFS, fresh from the supercomputers, still shows the axis of heaviest snow right over Cape Girardeau County, but reduces the totals somewhat to a mere 8-10 inches.)
Notice, however, that both models show areas just 50 miles to the southeast receiving almost no snow. It wouldn't take much for the storm to shift and give us squat, as shown by our fancy Dartboard Forecast System, newly upgraded with 40% more wild guessing:
One thing to keep in mind is that severe thunderstorms are expected to fire tomorrow over the Deep South, with a Moderate Risk already posted for Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.
These thunderstorms might "intercept" the moisture from the Gulf that is expected to power our snowstorm, reducing snowfall totals. On the other hand, any storm system capable of producing tornadoes on Christmas Day is a very powerful storm indeed, and it might be powerful enough to deliver thundersnow to our area, which would tend to increase snowfall rates.
We'll just have to wait and see what Winter Storm "Rudolph" brings.