Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The 2013-2014 Winter Freeze

March 4th Update
During the newscast at 10pm this evening, I showcased the final stats that will go into the record book for Winter 2014. The following video shows that the Paducah area ranked 10th in both "coldest and "snowiest". The winter of 1978 was the benchmark for both and has reminded many of this winter's brutal cold and active weather pattern.

Thanks to Climate Central for the specialized graphics!
February 13th Update

Data collected by Jennifer Rukavina from the Paducah National Weather and the Kentucky Mesonet

February 11th Update

Meteorological Winter technically runs from Dec-Jan-Feb. We are closing in on the end of this season and wanted to give you a preliminary look at how December and January temperatures ranked across Western Kentucky.

  • December temperatures averaged out to pretty close to normal (compared to Barkley Regional data).

  • January temperatures finished up being well below normal.

To track the difference, identify the city that you are most interested in then look at how the blue (Dec) and red (Jan) bars then compare to the very last column on the right. "Climate Normal" is what we report as an average based on the past 30 years. All the blue (Dec) lines match up well with the "Climate Normal" column. The red (Jan) lines, are all much shorter (colder) than the "Climate Normal" line.

Information compiled by Jennifer Rukavina with data from Kentucky Mesonet stations
and the Paducah National Weather Service
February 6, 2014

This winter has been anything but "average" for the Lower Ohio and Mid Mississippi Valleys and the cold seems to have a tight grip with no sign of letting go. We typically see a couple bouts of snow and cold in our area but at this point in the winter season, we are in record territory (at least for cold).

The graphic to the right snows average snowfall for the Midwestern states with our area being on the lower end of the scale. Records Barkley Regional in Paducah show our average snowfall at 10.5" annually from a period of 1981-2010. So far this season Barkley Regional has measured 12.5" of snow which is about 125% of normal so far at this point in the season. The two graphics below illustrate both accumulated snowfall thus far and the percent of average (compared to normal) to date. So far we are nowhere near record annual snowfall. The snowiest winter on record at NWS PAH was 1977/1978 with 35.7" which mostly fell in the month of January. The winter of 1984/1985 was the second snowiest measuring 28.7" As of February 6th, we stand to crack the top 20 of snowiest seasons. We've got a long way to go as it concerns snow. COLD? That's another story. See below.


The grip of cold weather this winter has been unrelenting. Dangerous wind chills, single-digit lows, teen high temps, and extended periods of below freezing temps have made headlines since the start of Meteorological Winter (December 1). Wild temperature swings defined December and those temperatures ended up averaging out close to "normal" for the month. January began the downward spiral with 18 days below average, 6 nights in single digits, and even a record cold daytime high of 10 degrees on Jan 6th. That record day is included in the national map below illustrating the numerous record cold days in January.


In a "normal" January, the average temperature (both highs/lows) is 34.6 degrees. This past January averaged out to 30.0 degrees as shown in the graphic to the right. Despite the fact that Upper Midwest state are usually pretty cold during the winter, they too are registering well below average on the map to the right too. Not only the area of focus to the right was colder than average, the entire continental US East of the Rockies was colder than average. Where there is one extreme, there is usually another to counter. That is clearly shown on the same map. Extremely warm temperatures and drought have led to a devastating drought for areas already prone to wildfire in the west. February temperatures have pretty much taken a cue from Punxsutawney Phil keeping us in the arctic plunge (if you'd like to blame it on something!). The average temperature for the first five days of the month is 31.2 degrees which is 5 degrees below average. I'm sure that number will shrink somewhat as we get into the second half of February but so far even the forecast thru the next week looks equally frigid.

 Those of you who inquired about frost/ice quakes after the front page article in the Paducah Sun on Thursday, here is the link to the full interview I conducted with Geologist Dr. Thomas Schmidlin explaining what conditions led to the possibility of their occurrence here in the Local 6 area. This interview took place on January 22, 2014.

Click Here: Recent Booms, Ice Quakes?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Wintry Weather for Sun-Mon

Sat Afternoon Update: 
New winter weather alerts that into effect tonight. Start wrapping up preparations! 

Fri PM Update:

Confidence continues to grow and point toward the winter storm threat of icing. Winter Storm WATCHES were issued by the National Weather Service this morning and afternoon including all of the Local 6 area now. The timing below still looks fairly in-line with the forecast that we have been showing for a couple of days. Here is a closer look at ice accumulation totals and the impact index of ice.

Be sure to continue your preparations tomorrow before the winter storm really moves in on Sunday and look for additional updates here. There may be a few small changes but the weather models have been pretty locked in on the Ohio River counties for higher totals for several cycles now.

In addition to ice accumulation, snow and sleet will also accumulate making for an icy mix on roadways. While sleet and snowfall will be a secondary concern to the icing, here is a look at projected forcast accumulations of snow/sleet:


Quick Friday Morning Update:
A Winter Storm WATCH has been issued for part of the Local 6 area including counties along the Ohio River in WKY and northward into IL/MO. This matches up well with the ice accumulation projection graphic below. Some minor changes may still come over the next 48 hours so stay in tune with weather over the weekend. Here is a regional look at the WATCH:


Thu Update:

Winter's foot is stuck in the door allowing for another wintry storm system to impact the area on Sunday through Monday. Much of the area will see the onset of precipitation primarily in the form of rain as temperatures will begin above freezing on Sunday morning. Temperatures will drop quickly during the afternoon bringing the freezing line south to the Ohio River by noon, then down toward the Purchase Pkwy by late afternoon.

6AM Sunday - NAM Model

 The 3 graphics to the right show the general transition that one of the computer models has been projecting. Pink areas indicate sleet/freezing rain and green represents rain. This will pretty much be an all day event and even continue into early Monday as the entire system wraps up with a chance for a few snow showers.
Noon Sunday - NAM Model

Ice accumulations should range from 1/4" to 1/2" in the areas that stay in the pink area longer. Sleet accumulation could also be moderate from 1-2" making for an icy mixture. The more sleet we see, the more impact we will have on the roads. The more freezing rain we see, the higher the impact on power lines and tree limbs.
9PM Sunday - NAM Model

The onset of rain before switching over to a wintry mix may also render the road pretreatment less helpful. Those areas will likely be south of the Ohio River into KY and TN. Here is a look at the ice accumulation projected by one of the weather models but seems to be pretty consistent showing the highest impact zone along the Ohio River and north into IL/MO. This line will undoubtedly shift as we get closer to the event but as always, the Local 6 area will be split by winter weather somehow and prepping now will get you ready for any scenario. Look for daily updates back here on this post.

Ice Accumulation by 9AM Monday - GFS Model