Confidence Growing In Potential Major Winter Storm…

Confidence continues to grow in the prospects of a major winter storm impacting the Mid West and Ohio Valley Friday into Saturday.  A cold front will slip through central Indiana Thursday night, allowing colder air to push back into the state.  At the same time, surface low pressure should begin to organize along the tail end of the frontal boundary across the Ark-la-tex region.  As we progress through the day Friday, cold air will continue to penetrate south into the Ohio Valley while the surface low lifts northeast into the region.  While we can argue about the specific track (this is still a few days out, after all), the pattern supports a central Ohio Valley track as we progress through the day Friday into Saturday.

EPS 500mb ensemble mean Friday
EPS 500mb ensemble mean Saturday
EPS 500mb ensemble mean Sunday

We caution not to get too worked up over individual operational output (including those “spectacular” runs) as run-to-run variance is likely over the next few days.  That said, when we have support from overall pattern techniques that have supported a significant interior event for late this week since last week, along with ensemble agreement, it does lead to greater than normal confidence.  If you have travel plans late this week/ weekend, we suggest keeping a very close eye on the forecast.  This will be a high impact event for portions of the Ohio Valley.

While it’s impossible to say precisely where the heaviest swath of snow is laid down in this situation from a few days out, this is a storm that should carry a swath of 6″ to 12″+ snow just to the northwest of the track.  Additionally, an initial period of an icy mixture of sleet and freezing rain is also possible.  Finally, as the storm wraps up over the Ohio Valley Saturday, a strengthening wind will lead to potential severe blowing and drifting issues.  Fresh arctic air will flow into the region Saturday night into Sunday that will return sub-zero wind chills to the area.

Bottom line, stay tuned…