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  • Writer's pictureTodd Yakoubian

Winter Storm Threat Increasing

The chance for snow, sleet, and freezing rain continues to increase late Wednesday into Thursday along with bitterly cold arctic air.

The models are waffling on placement and amounts, but these are the things to remember when dealing with a set up such as the one we see unfolding...

The strength of the cold, arctic air coming out of Canada is powerful. 99 out of 100 times, the models underestimate how cold and how far south the cold air will make it.

The models are screaming freezing rain and I think that will be an issue. However, it's entirely possible there's more sleet than freezing rain due to the models not handling the magnitude of the cold air. This also means snow could be a more predominate precip type for northern Arkansas and a change over to snow would be possible further south IF there's enough moisture lingering around. This is all based upon experience with modeling not really showing this right now.

If you have to choose between sleet and freezing rain, you want sleet. More than 1/4'' of freezing rain can cause huge issues for trees and powerlines. Sleet causes issues on roads only. Again, if you have to choose.

Here we go with models. They are guidance to a forecast and NOT a forecast. I'm using the more consistent European. It's also colder compared to other models and for the reasons stated above, I rarely see models handle arctic air well.

Early Wednesday, we have a cold rain in spots with the front hung up over the Ozarks. Cold, shallow arctic will take a little time to ooze through the Ozarks and/or go around them.

Later Wednesday afternoon, we see temperatures falling across much of the state behind the front with rain changing to a wintry mix north. Notice the plume of moisture on the far left side of the graphic. That's the disturbance bringing moisture on top of the cold air at the surface.

By Thursday midnight, we see cold air deep enough over the west and north for all snow. There COULD be a transition area from west central into central and northeast Arkansas of freezing rain and sleet.

By early Thursday morning, the transition area has made it into most of southern Arkansas with a POSSIBLE change to snow north half depending on the depth of the cold air. REMEMBER, WE'RE LOOKING AT A MODEL AND MODELS ARE NOT ALWAYS REALITY.

By the middle of the afternoon Thursday, the back edge of the precip is moving through western Arkansas. Another possible error with the models is that they are too slow. It's entirely possible the back edge is further east. What's that over Texas and Oklahoma? The model is picking up on an area of light snow showers and that could fly across quickly Friday morning. Hmmmmmm?

I thought it would be interesting to look at the Euro ensemble snowfall amount probabilities.

The chance for at least 1'' of snow very high north.

The chance for at least 3'' of snow north still high.

The chance for at least 6'' of snow north decreases significantly north, but still possible.

Bottom line summary... It's still early. A lot will continue to evolve and change. Based on how these systems have behaved in the past, the cold air is usually stronger and further south than models depict days in advance. That means the freezing rain zone could be further south with more sleet and snow elsewhere. One thing you can always count on, Channel 7 will be there for you. As always, thank you for your trust.

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