Snow Forecasting, the Inside Track

December 17th, 2012 at 9:45 pm by under Weather

Surface low storm tracks courtesy HPC

So,  who’s ready for some snow?  Our next chance of snow has been showing up in the forecast models for a few days now and even though our next snow event is only 3 days away, I am not quite ready to hang my hat on an official snow forecast for the WANE viewing area.

But Jonathan, isn’t that your job?    Absolutely, but here’s the deal: the storm that is going to bring us our snow chance for Thursday and Friday, is still over 2000 miles away, somewhere just off the West Coast.  Imagine, how much can change in the next 3 days as this storm system evolves over the Rockies and ejects over the Plains?  Let’s look at like the game of Plinko on “The Price is Right.”  You could put your puck in almost the same starting spot every time, but each time, you may get a completely different prize.   That’s the deal with this low and how much snow we are going to get:  What is the final storm track with this storm?   Greg Shoup did a very good in the last blog post, job breaking down where forecasters look for the heavy snow to form.   Besides locking in a on a final storm track we are also dealing with two other unknowns: 1.  When will the rain change over to snow and 2. How much lake effect snow will we see?

Hands down, Wisconsin will likely get clobbered with snow Thursday into Friday.  Check out the last two model runs of the GFS forecast model:

Above is the snow forecast maps of the GFS model.   The first is the model run from 12Z, or 7 AM Monday and the second is the 18Z, or 1PM model run.   What you should take from these forecast maps is that the GFS is being consistent with the placement of the heavy snow across parts of Wisconsin (over 12″ of snow) and how snow we will see in the Fort (about an inch.)

Here is a closer look at just the WANE viewing area:

12Z GFS Snow Forecast, courtesy

Notice that Allen County is under the pink contour (1″ total snow) while closer to the Lake, 3″ are possible.  The higher amounts of snow closer to the lake is likely from Lake Effect snow showers, which are not typically handled well by this forecast model. (It under forecasts lake effect snow.)

So, is this the final solution?  Is this official forecast from WANE TV?  No, not at all.  This is only  one model out of several forecast models.   My one concern is that this storm ends up taking a more “southern” track and our area is closer to the heavy snow band.   That being said, I would like to give it one more day before we put out a official WANE snow forecast map.   But in the meantime, here is what we do know:

  • Rain is likely Thursday, mainly in the morning.
  • Look for a mid day break with very mild conditions, 50° is expected near noon.
  • By the late afternoon, temperatures crash, falling into the lower 30s by sunset.
  • Light snow showers develop into the evening as the storm system passes overhead.
  • As the storm passes, winds on the backside of the low cause the lake effect snow showers to develop into Friday.
  • Winds in Fort Wayne may gust as high as 40 mph Thursday night.

If you are doing any traveling to IA, MN, MI or WI, I would definetely plan ahead and leave a lot of extra time on Thursday and Friday.

One Response to “Snow Forecasting, the Inside Track”

  1. Frosty says:

    Jonathan dont be concerned if it takes a more southern track. Thats good news cause we need some white for Christmas. Thanks for the information.