A Messy Winter Storm Gets Underway Tonight Into Saturday.
Upper Karr Canyon Campground.
(South Of Cloudcroft).
Saturday Morning, December 1, 2018.
Winter Storm Impacts Begin Tonight.
Valid At 3 PM MST Thursday Afternoon.
Fist where is the mid-upper level storm located...just west of Los Angeles, California as of 3 PM and still dropping to the southeast. Then where does it go between now and Saturday? That's the problem with trying to forecast this storm. As happens occasionally a storm comes along that the models simply don't get a good handle on and this is one of those storms. The devil is in the details with this one. I gave up on trying to pick a model to go with because none of them can sing the sing tune with this storm. Every new model run that comes out has a new track and forecast and none of them are consistent with their own forecasts much less each other.
Part of the difficulty with this incoming winter storm is trying to figure out how cold it gets...or not. A shallow cold air mass is slowly settling in behind the cold front now slipping southward through the local area. The 30's and 40's are forecast across Southeastern New Mexico tomorrow. If the winter storm to our west drops further south than is currently being forecast by the models then the cold air mass behind the front will deepen and spread further south and west. That would help change rain over to freezing rain, sleet, and snow. If the storm tracks further north than currently forecast that would keep the colder air north of us and we would see less of the wintry precipitation mix and more rain.
Valid Thursday Night Through Sunday Noontime.
WPC 7-Day Storm Total Rainfall Forecasts.
Valid This Thursday Night Through Next Thursday Evening.
Either way the storm tracks this is going to be a wet one for the area. Locally precipitation totals (rain, freezing rain, melted sleet and snow) should be in the half of an inch to an inch and a half range by the time the storms ends and moves east of us Saturday night. Enough atmospheric instability will also be present along with a strong jet overhead to kick off scattered thunderstorms at times tonight into Friday night. Where sleet and snow is falling those of you may see the rare thundersnow phenomena.
(As of 5:30 PM MST Thursday).
(Issued At 4 PM MST Thursday).
Valid From Thursday Night Into 5 AM MST Sunday.
The Weather Prediction Centers (WPC) storm total snowfall forecast issued at 5 AM MST Thursday morning also takes the middle ground...top map. With the heaviest snows occurring over the South Plains of Texas and parts of the Panhandle. At its worst the storm would produce the snowfall totals seen in the bottom graphic but this has only about a 5% chance of occurring.
I chose the middle of the road approach and used the National Weather Service experimental snowfall forecast graphics instead of the model forecast graphics. These are always available on my winter forecast page on my web site.
Snow levels in the Sacramento Mountains will be high tonight starting out around 9,500' to 10,000' lowering down to around 8,000' on Friday. By Friday night 7,000'. Locals above 7,500' are currently expected to see 3" to 6" and locals between 6,000' and 7,500' between a trace and 3 by Saturday morning. Please keep in mind that these totals could very well change. Again they could be high if the storm to our west slows down and digs further south. Or they could be lower if it speeds up and heads further north.
Freezing drizzle, freezing rain, and sleet are forecast for parts of the area later tonight and again Friday night into Saturday morning. Travel problems could develop in those areas that receive the most freezing rain and sleet for the longest time. Local highways will become even more dangerous than they already are (with the massive influx of oil field traffic). Especially Friday night into Saturday as snow begins to fall. Those areas that receive snowfall on top of the ice will have the most problems with the potential for travel disruptions and road closures. This includes the Guadalupe Pass area and the east slopes of the Sacramento Mountains late tonight and more so Friday night.
Surprises with this winter storm will no doubt occur. Id be willing to bet that some of us will get more snow than is forecast and snow of us less. If that sounds like I'm second guessing myself I'm not. Winter storms like this one are extremely difficult to forecast even with the best of the model data available. Stay warm and safe all.
If you would like to send me photos of the storm for me to use on my blogs then email them to me at:
The Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction - And Sometimes It Hurts!