Major winter storm moves across region tonight, tomorrow

Reported by: Matt Ernst
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Updated: 2/24/2013 5:06 pm
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updated 4:47 p.m.

The National Weather Service has expanded the blizzard warning south to include Lubbock and communities along Highway 114, shown in orange below. This is in effect from 9 p.m. tonight through 6 p.m. tomorrow evening. A winter weather advisory has been posted along Hwy. 380 for lighter snow accumulations.

 
 
 


After reviewing the newest data we've pulled the 1" to 4" snow total line in our forecast a little farther south to include Lubbock. The city is still far enough south to where we see little...but it's looking more likely that we'll see at least a few inches of blowing snow. Not included below is where 6" to 8" of snow will fall. There will likely be an isolated band of heavier snow into the 6" to 8" range but there's no skill in determining where something isolated like that will occur.

 
 
 

Click here - for a larger version.

The biggest issue out of this storm system is the wind. The snow totals are significant, but it's the fact the wind will be so strong that we'll have near-zero visibility and drifting snow.

Rudy will have the very latest tonight on FOX 34 News at Nine. Caitlin and I will be working on the forecast tomorrow morning. Please share this and future blog posts with your friends so they know what to expect.



posted Sunday morning

IMPORTANT NOTE: I stress this with every winter storm and want to start with it here...there will be surprises with winter weather in West Texas. 50 miles isn't a major difference in the path of this winter storm, but it makes a huge difference in who sees snow and who doesn't. Unlike the Amarillo area, where everybody in their area should see a major winter storm, this is expected to affect part of our area. There is a greater level of uncertainty on just how far south the snow will get. If I were writing this for Amarillo area I could confidently say we're all going to get snow, but it's not the case for Lubbock and the South Plains.

TODAY: First, the simple forecast...mild, windy and mostly sunny today, 60s for most of the area with Lubbock near 69, SW wind 18-30mph. A few thunderstorms are possible later tonight over the Rolling Plains, near Jayton and Aspermont, but the better chance is farther east. These storms could become severe as they move east.

COLD FRONT: A strong cold front will first enter our northwestern counties around 6 p.m. and clear the area after Midnight. The temperature will drop into the 30s...eventually 20s NW...with a N wind of 20-35mph. The wind will get even stronger tomorrow during the day, N 30-40mph with gusts over 50mph. The temperature won't move much through the day, high in the low-mid 30s.

SNOW SETUP: Mixed precip is possible in our NW counties tonight around 9 p.m., but this will quickly change to all snow...and blowing snow at that. After Midnight snow should spread across more of the NW and N parts of our area, eventually spreading as far south as Lubbock by 6 a.m. Snow will continue off-and-on through the area into tomorrow afternoon, ending from west to east.

STRONG WIND: Behind the front the N wind will kick up to between 20 and 35mph with gusts over 40. The wind will get even stronger tomorrow, N 30-40mph with gusts over 50mph. This will lead to significant visibility reductions in the snow and tall drifts. It'll also drop the wind chill down to the single digits most of the day.

SNOW TOTALS: Models have shifted farther south on this storm the past couple of days. As it stands right now it appears the Highway 70 and Highway 86 corridors are the prime spots for significant accumulations. But this storm system isn't going to follow road signs and it'll take just a minor shift south to get Lubbock into the heavier snow. Also, keep in mind 2" of light snow over a few hours isn't as big of a problem as 2" of heavy snow blowing sideways. Visibility will be poor. Based on the morning model runs this is our forecast for totals by Monday evening:

 
 
 

Click here - for a larger version.

Interesting note as I write this is the 12z (6 a.m.) models just coming in are a little farther south. We'll dive into that data during the afternoon for any adjustments to the graphic above.

Both the RPM and NAM models have shown some 8" bands setting up in our northern communities, but the placement has been erratic. I can't say with confidence we'll see this, but I wouldn't be surprised if there was a heavier band somewhere of 8" of snow. It's a different story to our north, where 5" to 9" will be common around Amarillo, with isolated totals over a foot in the eastern Panhandle. We're actually getting the lighter amounts here. It is also very possible Lubbock doesn't see any snow; it's that close of a call.

WARNING SETUP: As of Sunday morning there are no advisories or warnings for Lubbock or Hwy. 114 and points south.

 
 
 


There is a winter storm warning for about the Hwy. 70 corridor, including Muleshoe, Littlefield, Olton, Plainview, Floydada, Matador and Paducah. The NWS Lubbock has hoisted a blizzard warning for Hwy. 86 corridor, including Bovina, Dimmitt, Tulia, Silverton, Turkey and Childress. Criteria for a blizzard warning is at least three hours of falling or blowing snow reducing visibility below 1/4 mile and sustained wind or frequest gusts of at least 35mph. Blizzard warnings also cover the TX and OK Panhandles, western OK and SW KS. Travel is highly discouraged in the blizzard warning area.

There could be changes to the warning map later this afternoon. We'll be on a conference call with the Weather Service mid-afternoon and will pass along any changes later today.

Our full weather staff is working, stay tuned for updates as new information becomes available.
-Matt
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