The system that we have been following all week with a potential for winter weather next Thursday is over the coast of Alaska.
Let that sink in for a second. It is still 4,000 miles away. Models have picked up on this since it was more than 6,000 miles away.
You can see it on this graphic:
Models are in agreement it will be a close call for us. The consensus is that we will get a rain/snow mix starting early Thursday morning into possibly the afternoon.
Could it be all or mostly snow? Yes. Could it be all rain? Yes. Could it miss us all together and we stay dry? Yes, but not likely.
Again, the atmosphere is complex, there are many variables and layers. Once this reaches the contiguous United States, our weather balloons will get better information and our confidence will grow in what we see. That will happen on Monday.
As of right now, the model averages (ensembles) are the best for our guidance. The odds to see 1″ or more of snow run around 20-30 percent at the moment.
The average of amounts by the 50 runs of the Euro and 30 runs of the GFS model all show near 1 inch. Within these runs, a few show more than 6 inches, and there are quite a few that show 0.
The snow/sleet odds that I study each day have grown steadily all week with this system. The odds only break down the chance to see 0.1″ of snowfall. As I have mentioned before, snowfall and snow depth are not always the same when there is melting to factor in.
These numbers have gone as follows centered on the Piedmont-Triad Airport for Jan. 28:
- Monday showed a 20 percent chance
- Tuesday showed a 26 percent chance
- Wednesday showed a 33 percent chance
- Thursday showed a 45 percent chance
Today the value for Jan 28 is 49 percent to see at least 0.1″.
As always, as the system gets closer, we will have better data and can be more confident.
Still, seeing something like years ago would have been impossible. At least now we have an idea way ahead and can watch closely. Stay tuned for updates.