Weirton lies along the banks of the Ohio River, while St. Joseph is on the Missouri. Maybe they aren’t the most famous towns on their respective rivers, but they do offer a chance to get up close to them. It will require a day and a half drive over the course of 832 miles. Our first day will conclude 518.7 miles in, slowed by travelling off-interstate to a pace of 64.8mph.
DAY ONE (Tuesday)
High pressure has nosed into the western Great Lakes, and will suppress much rising air, which usually just means that there won’t be any showers or storms in the area. This is true, but for our purposes, it means an inversion across much of the region as well. This suggests there will be A) low clouds and B) morning fog, thanks to the high moisture content in the region, thanks to snow melt and a lack of motivation to clear out. As the day goes on, expect improved visibility and maybe even a bit of sun in the afternoon over Illinois and Indiana. We’ll stop in Buffalo, Illinois, between Springfield and Decatur, for our sole break of the trip.
DAY TWO (Wednesday) A weak feature sliding along the Texas Gulf Coast will extend an inverted trough to the Show Me State, which means a few wet flakes across the region. Given the temperatures, it seems likely that this will lead to some especially icy roads in northern Missouri, even if there isn’t a lot of accumulation. I’m concerned about the threat for some freezing mist in the morning. Drive safely!
We’re going to check in a little north of Kansas City for our first forecast of the week. What can we expect from the weather in the middle of the country to start the week?
At 1153AM, CT, St. Joseph was reporting light fog and a temperature of 36 degrees. They weren’t indicating cloud cover, but a quick look at satellite imagery would confirm that they are socked in with overcast. Warm temperatures were melting snow and leading to saturated air masses from Kansas City to the Canadian border, and with warm temperatures expected to continue, no end is in sight. A weak upper level trough is parenting an even weaker surface feature sliding out of the Rockies and into the Texas/Oklahoma region through the night tonight and into tomorrow. An inverted trough associated with this system will sneak into the St. Joseph area in the evening and linger through the morning. Some light precipitation, likely just mist mixed with some flakes, will persist overnight. Temperatures hovering close to freezing will make for treacherous roads in the region on Wednesday morning. Tomorrow – Light precip, including snow and freezing drizzle, starting in the evening, High 32, low 27 Wednesday – Mixed precipitation including snow and light icing through mid morning, then clearing, High 34, Low 26
TWC: Tomorrow – Cloudy (late snow) High 29, Low 26 Wednesday – Cloudy skies. A few flurries or snow showers possible. high 30, Low 24
AW: Tomorrow – Cloudy High 32, Low 27 Wednesday – A passing morning flurry; otherwise, partly sunny High 32, Low 24
WB: Tomorrow – Cloudy, high 31, low 29 Wednesday – Partly sunny, High 31, Low 27
WN: Tomorrow – Mostly cloudy with a slight chance of light snow, High 33, low 28 Wednesday – Mostly cloudy, High 33, Low 24
FIO: Tomorrow – Foggy tomorrow morning. High 32, low 27 Wednesday – Overcast throughout the day. High 34, Low 25
Ah, the dangerous mixed bag. Model guidance is pretty low key on precipitation out of this event, and you could go a lot of different ways. I feel like, with temperatures as warm as they are, we are going to expect a lot more low visibility misty fog, and not as many flakes. I don’t know where TWC is coming from with their temperatures. Too cloudy for it to be so cold, in my opinion. In any event, here is the satellite, with a dome of cloud cover over the area.
Here’s something you might not know about Arizona: It’s a very dry place. Dew points in Prescott hit the low 20s early last week, which is fine in the summer, but it means temperatures can really cool off in the evenings. A little bit of moisture moved in on Monday, and while it was warmer over night, there were also clouds and slightly cooler temperatures in the afternoon. Weatherbug had the top forecast in Prescott, but it was a fairly level playing field. Actuals: Sunday (19th) High 60, Low 25 Monday (20th) High 55, Low 34
That, my friends, is a lot of W’s. We are going to trek through the Great Lakes right in the middle of winter. Does this mean Lake effect snow? Maybe! There is only one way o find out, I suppose. Our drive till take one long day, covering 606 miles, bogged down by the Windy City, which will let us move at a nearly glacial pace of 62mph. We’ll get there. Sometime.
It’s not Lake effect snow that will be the problem on our Saturday drive, but rather just standard, regular back side of an area of low pressure snow that will be an issue. It’s not going to be heavy, save, perhaps for the stretch of northern Indiana downwind of Lake Michigan. the snow will be wet, too, and well trafficked roads might not even ice over with the snow. But any snow, especially in a metropolitan area like Chicago, is going to really slow down travel. Snow will still be possible across Ohio, but it will be a misty, flaky brand of snow that won’t accumulate and will be tough to wipe off your windshield without the help of washer fluid. Weirton awaits, whether or not you can get the grime off your windshield.
I think this might be the first road trip of the year, right? It will be a 3 day trip through the heart of the country, covering 1689 miles at a pace of about 65mph. That will mean the first two days will be complete after just short of 520 miles on days 1 and 2, with a 10 hour day coming on Sunday. 2020, here we come!
DAY ONE (Friday)
We are headed for a trip through the southern Rockies at the right time. Atmospheric instability is confined to the central Plains for the most part, with a dose in the northern Rockies, leaving Arizona and New Mexico fairly unperturbed. We’ll check in on Flagstaff and Albuquerque on our eastward journey, stopping west of Santa Rosa, New Mexico to end our day and our work week.
DAY TWO (Saturday) As we continue to the east, we’ll slice through a couple of Panhandles before spending the rest of the day in southern Kansas. I don’t recall ever spending much time in this part of the world on a road trip, and I especially don’t remember cutting through Wichita to get anywhere. Usually, it’s just a bypass on I-35. Not this time! Instead, we will enjoy an increasingly warm day, free of any atmospheric interference before we reach El Dorado, where we will end our day. Along the way, appreciate Greensburg, a city that has had to completely rebuild after a devastating tornado in 2007.
DAY THREE (Sunday) Sure, this day will be the longest, and it will also be the gloomiest, with clouds becoming much more likely thanks to a combination of general troughiness* over the Plains, and the melting snow north of Kansas City leading to clouds and fog along most of the route. On the other hand, at least the car won’t be unbearably hot because of the penetrative sun, and we will get to see Des Moines! And Dubuque! Both are very nice towns. So is Madison, for those unaware.
There are a lot of reasons that storm systems or wet weather don’t ever reach a location. Rather than coming up with the explanation on a per occasion basis, a lot of people just say that there was a force field around a city. Sure, there was the system moving through the Tennessee Valley towards the coast towards Hinesville last week, but I think we can just say it didn’t rain there because of a force field. earned victory. Actuals: Tuesday (14th) – High 79, Low 60 Wednesday (15th) – High 77, Low 62
Prescott is the sweet spot of Arizona. Not as hot as Phoenix in the summer, not as snowy as Flagstaff in the winter. Sweet.
At 753PM, MT, Prescott was reporting clear skies with a temperature of 40 degrees. Clear skies have moved across Arizona in the wake of a fairly wet week across the state. A high amplitude but somewhat shortwave trough is rolling through the western US, allowing for surface high pressure across the Intermountain West. Expect continued zonal flow across Arizona, which should mean a few scattered clouds in Prescott. Tomorrow – Partly cloudy, High 62, Low 27 Monday – Mostly cloudy, High 59, Low 32
TWC: Tomorrow – Mostly sunny skies. High 60, Low 29 Monday -Cloudy. High 59, Low 33
AW: Tomorrow – Mostly sunny High 60, Low 27 Monday – Mostly cloudy High 60, Low 30
NWS: Tomorrow Sunny, High 57, Low 29 Monday – Mostly cloudy High 57, Low 35
WB: Tomorrow – Mostly sunny in the morning, then becoming partly cloudy, High 59, Low 30 Monday – Mostly cloudy, High 57, Low 34
WN: Tomorrow – Mostly sunny, High 57, Low 29 Monday – Mostly cloudy, High 57, Low 34
FIO: Tomorrow – Clear throughout the day, High 59, Low 30 Monday – Overcast throughout the day. High 59, Low 34
Well, that’s about it. Pretty easy breezy, if I’m being honest. Take a look at this fairly tranquil satellite imagery. I can see Phoenix!
This year, there was a grand cluster of similarly competent forecasters. 5 Outlets were matched pretty well, but then there was one outlet that was very bad (sorry, Forecast.io) and one that was really good, but it took until December to realize how dominant they had been. Victoria-Weather won the month of December, while the ultimate winner for the year tied for second…. and that was all it took to finish well above the runner up this year. Congratulations to the Forecaster of the Year,
THE WEATHER CHANNEL!
For completeness, here is the chart of individual forecast wins. It shows that The Weather Channel didn’t necessarily have the highest peaks, but they were able to stay steady all year. Here’s to a wonderful 2020!
Sure, we started the year in Florida, but we made sure to follow up our forecasting with the notoriously difficult Billings. Indeed, with a lingering disturbance during the forecast period last Thursday, and another stronger system moving in from the west, there was a lot that could have gone with the forecast, and plenty did. There wasn’t much fresh snow, just a bit on Friday, and a strange combination of strong winds and clouds kept temperatures from dropping off on Saturday morning. I guess the bad news I was talking about in the title belonged to forecasters, who universally had some troubles with the temperatures, especially the lows, and only a couple outlets hit on the correct precipitations forecast. In the end, the Weather Service and WeatherNation snagged the top spots. Actuals: Friday, trace of snow, High 26, Low 2 Saturday: High 35, Low 26>