Posted by:Buckey2745, 3:48 AM GMT on January 30, 2011
We're less than two days away from seeing the early effects of what will be a multi-day event here in Central Ohio and throughout the Midwest and the Great Lakes region. While forecast models are still uncertain to the track, I can say that someone's going to get hit. It's just a matter of who.
The Setup This storm will have three phases. The first will move in to our area Monday night in the form of a warm from a solid thousand miles from the center of the storm. That'll butt up against an arctic air mass that we've got in place just to the north of us, putting a line from Dallas, TX to Columbus, OH in a convergance zone between the two air masses:
Tuesday morning setup as the southern low begins to rev up
The second phase will be the main low pressure with the bulk of the moisture. That's when we could get heavy snow totals, or worse...
Finally as the storm passes east, we'll wrap in to the cold sector and go back to snow and windy conditions.
What will be fascinating with this storm is it should follow that red warm from line as its track. That means we could be in a danger zone of snow, ice and rain off and on for a 48 hour period.
The Track If I could tell you exactly where this storm is going to go, I could quit my day job. But I can't. It's too early to tell, and that's too bad... because if we knew its track, we'd know exactly what everyone would expect.
Current models are all over the place, with the center passing through Northern Ohio, Central Ohio, Southern Ohio, and even as far south as the Tennessee Valley. Each scenario brings its own bad of tricks.
Lets look at what I believe to be the three most likely tracks:
Northern Ohio A 50-75 mile area north of the low, no matter where it tracks, should expect icing. How significant is hard to say right now, but with this strong system streaming warm moist air over a cold layer at the surface, it could be significant. This scenario would put Central Illinois, North-Central Indiana and Northern Ohio under the gun for mixed precip. Points north would stay mainly snow, points south, mainly rain.
Southern Ohio This track is the most dangerous for us here in Central Ohio. That would put most of our CWA in line for an icing event. Southern Indiana and Southern Illinois would also be in the bullseye.
Tennessee Valley This is the scenario that would satisfy the snow lover and keep the ice away from most of our area, except for extreme Southern Ohio. A track like this could honestly have us getting out the yard sticks to measure snow.
Early on guess has me thinking the low will go right through Central Ohio... leaving us with even more questions because that may leave us right on the freezing mark at the surface, meaning icing would be possible, but frequent changeovers would be probable.
This is going to be a hard one to predict. I think for now the best we can do is just prepare for the worst. We haven't had a major icing here in almost exactly two years. Honestly, that event could be mild compared to the potential of this monster.
I'll post again tomorrow with updated track forecasts.