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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A white Christmas and beyond

Friday, December 14, 2012

I became a snow lover when I was growing up in Arkansas. It snowed there more then than it does now and the snows we received were much different than the typical snow in Nebraska. Up here, we often have winds accompanying the snowfall which causes the snow to fall sideways instead of straight down, resulting in deep drifts in some places and bare ground in others. In addition, the snow is usually accompanied by frigid temperatures.

In Arkansas, it was just the opposite. Temperatures were only a degree or two below freezing with mostly calm winds and that resulted in a beautiful slow falling snow with huge wet flakes. One of the real joys of my childhood was to go outside and walk during this kind of snowfall. The beauty of the falling snow combined with a quietness rarely heard on non-snow days was something you had to experience to believe. It was so quiet that often you could actually hear the snowflakes landing on your coat and I would stay out in it until I was called back in the house.

Today, I still keep up with the weather and like snow as much as I ever did, as long as I don't have to drive in it. There are few things that stir my emotions as much as opening my blinds, making a cup of hot chocolate, sitting in my chair, and watching the snow fall from my third floor loft. As is the case with Arkansas, Nebraska doesn't get the kind of snows it used to get either and we've certainly been snow deprived this year because of the extreme drought we've suffered through all year long.

I'm a subscriber to Weatherbell Analytics which produces a snowfall depth chart over any given forty day period, based on four different computer models used worldwide and it appears our weather is about to change. I use the word 'appears' because I found out early on that nothing is etched in stone when it comes to predicting the weather. We often joke that all of us should have made weather forecasting our career because it's the only occupation where you can be wrong more than right and still keep your job. That's because there are so many variables that impact on a snow event that the best forecast is really nothing more than informed guesswork.

With that in mind, the model ensembles are predicting a pattern shift over almost the whole country which will turn our weather colder and snowier for the next forty days. Joe Bastardi, the lead long-range forecaster for Weatherbell is predicting at least a 50 percent snow cover for the whole country on Christmas Day, plus or minus two days, compared with only a 20 percent snow cover now. That's obviously a significant change. And the ensembles are predicting us to have snow cover within the next week to ten days, after one more mild period, with that snow cover lasting through the entire forty day forecasting period.

If this forecast materializes, it will be a boon to all of us because a snow cover that stays on the ground and is reinforced by subsequent snows means a break in the drought that has reached critical mass in our area. It would literally mean a million dollar snow cover for farmers and that affects all of us in a positive way.

A warning however lies in the four different models that make up the ensemble. One model never has us with more than a couple of inches on the ground with several periods of no snow cover at all while two of the other models have us with continuous snow cover and some days during the period with twenty inches or more.

Snow prediction is a lot like predicting the outcome of sporting events. I see every year long, well-thought out analyses of games taking every angle into consideration and they end up being as far away from fact as they could be. The same goes with weather forecasts. The experts look at past models to predict what's going to happen in the future and sometimes history repeats itself, but sometimes it doesn't. A good example is the forecast for tonight. Our National Weather Service Office in Goodland issues a scientific forecast twice a day and over the last four runs, each forecast has been different, going from thunder snow with an inch or so of accumulation yesterday to no thunder and no accumulation today.

Because we're dry as a bone in this part of the country, I think most of us are hoping the optimistic snow forecast turns out to be right, whether you're a snow lover or not.


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It's George Bush's fault

-- Posted by Keda46 on Sat, Dec 15, 2012, at 1:26 AM


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Mike Hendricks
Mike at Night