WEEKLY COLUMN: 1-31-18
JANUARY FINISHES MILD, BUT MOISTURE PICKS UP TO START FEBRUARY
We finish out January near the peak of yet another hill on the weather roller coaster, and that may lead to a bit of a wild ride into the start of February. Strong southwest winds here at midweek are taking temperatures up dramatically once again. Winds average 15-30 mph for your Wednesday…so make sure you keep an extra hand on your hat. In addition to taking temps up for the last day of January, this also will signal a strong front moving closer from the west.
That front arrives Thursday. Moisture actually begins closer to midnight Wednesday night in northeast Illinois, northern Indiana and southern Michigan, and shortly past the midnight hour in northwest Ohio. In those areas we can see up to a quarter of an inch of liquid move in, and it still should be warm enough that we likely see rain there. Then, through Thursday, action sags farther south and east, bringing .1”-.5” to the rest of Indiana, eastern Illinois and Ohio. We still think that most of the moisture comes in with temps holding at 35 degrees or better, so we should see all rain at this time. But, cold air is still blasting in behind the front so never say never. We look for the heaviest moisture to stay south into Kentucky, where rain totals may push closer to three quarters of an inch. With no strong moisture surge north to keep any action lingering in central or northern parts of the region when the cold air moves in…there just is nothing to trigger any meaningful snow. We appear to dodge the bullet this time around.
Colder air is in to finish the week on Friday, as high pressure moves across northern Indiana into northern Ohio. Temps stay cold through Saturday midday before southwest winds return and bump us back above freezing. Overnight Saturday night through Sunday we have a minor system moving through that brings a few hundredths to .3” of liquid equivalent precipitation through. Temps will be mostly in the lower to middle 30s throughout that event, so it is conceivable that we see a mix of rain, sleet and snow, depending on how the system wants to evolve. But, we do hold off on our next leg down in temperatures until after the moisture leave Sunday night. The map above shows moisture totals (liquid equivalent) from the first two systems of the month of February.
Cold air for Monday fuels a clipper that brings some significant snow to Michigan. This snow can make it down to US 24 to start next week and may linger into Tuesday in those areas. However, the rest of the state stays dry Monday, and may end up with some rains or snow to start off Tuesday before action moves farther off to the east and south. There is a lot of cold air pooling up in the Canadian prairies and it looks to break free for next week. This should come in for midweek, and should take temps below normal, this time for more of an extended period. We are likely to see some subzero temps the second half of next week over central and northern Indiana.
The 11-16 day period shows several clippers on the move. One crosses the great lakes the 8th, another 11th, and a third for the 13th. All have a chance of bringing snow, and cold air will be the feature that really sets the tone for the pattern. It looks to be coming back with a vengeance. Will Mother Nature remind us that “it is winter after all” in February?