Sunday’s Snow & Tonight’s Snow Forecast

Happy Presidents’ Day! It was another crazy weather day in SE Wisconsin. Totals ranged from 0″ to 14″. This makes forecasting a lot of fun, but quite stressful. Take a look at the totals map for our area.

Look at the incredible difference across Milwaukee county. From around an inch in Oak Creek to eight inches in Bayside. The heaviest totals were in our northern counties:

Oostburg: 14″, Random Lake: 13″, Cedarburg: 11″, Sheboygan: 10.9″, West Bend: 10″

Milwaukee received 2.8″. That brings our February total to 22.3″. This is 13.4″ above average for the month. The snow total for the season is 49.6″. 9.7″ above average.

This was a much different snow than the blizzard. The moisture content was very high. It was difficult to shovel because of all the weight of the water in the snow.

Another round of light snow is expected for tonight. As the temperatures drop, the lake enhancement could kick in. So far, that has not happened. I’m only expecting 1″-3″ across the area.

There is a winter weather advisory in effect until 6am Tuesday for all of SE Wisconsin.

It is a borderline advisory with most of the snow coming tonight and only 1-3″ likely. The wind will be brisk out of the east at 15-30 miles per hour blowing this powdery snow around.

After this round blows by, the questions arise about the next storm on Thursday night and Friday. Using the LRC, Lezak’s Recurring Cycle, let’s take a look at Friday’s storm versus the last time we had this pattern in early January. Let’s compare the GFS 500mb forecast map for Friday morning vs. January 6th of this year. There are some differences but the overall upper level features are there. The January pattern is more meridional. (More wavy) The forecast for Friday is much more zonal. (East to West).  The upper low on the west coast is in a significantly different position. Off California coast vs. Pacific Northwest. Truth be told, I’m not sure how this difference will impact our next storm. The last time this system came through it stayed well to our south. I would think the storm on Friday will also stay to our south.

I will be happy to hear from the LRC experts for their take on late this week. I’m still watching and learning. The LRC was a great help with Sunday’s storm. Most of you will recall the models were all over the place and too far south with the low for much of the week. Using the LRC as another model, it was very interesting to watch the models fall into line as the storm got closer. Thanks for reading.



20 Responses

  1. I am trying to understand more and more why we get the weather we do. Can you simplify it for me and explain how in a matter of a few miles where Pleasant Prairie got hardly nothing and then in Random Lake got around a foot when the temps were only a few degrees apart if at all?

    • Craig,
      That is what makes yesterday’s forecast so difficult. It is just a matter of a few degrees, whether at the surface or at the cloud level. The temperatures aloft above Pleasant Prairie stayed above freezing for the majority of the event. That brought you rain, where just 60 miles north, the temperature profile was just a little cooler to support all snow. In between, there was freezing rain, sleet, and snow.

  2. Mark – food for thought. Each cycle will have variations due to seasonal influences and other oscillations. Often, while there will always be a reflection from cycle to cycle, it is worthwhile in reviewing all the past cycles to find where similar jet strength and teleconnection conditions were similar. In this case, while Jan has some similarities – peek at the prior cycle in third week in November. November had much more similar PNA behavior than the cycle in January. This should help.

    • Scott, just checked out November 17, 18th. Certainly more similar. This learning experience gets more enjoyable with every passing cycle. Still lots to learn. Thanks.


      • Also…keep in mind while it is sexy to have a signature storm to keep “time” of the cycle, there is variance to always keep in mind. I tend to focus more on the synoptic shifts where I know storms will act similar in a certain part of the pattern rather than identifying each storm separately. Just some tips I have learned..

    • LRC = sexy. Nice.

    • lrcweather, impressive PNA behavior. Thanks for pointing that out to Mark for others to read. Another teleconnection to bookmark! It is enjoyable to watch the pattern repeat again and again accompanied by the LRC tid bits you generously pass along. My backyard snowfall forecast took a blow to the face with the past couple storms. HA! 🙂

      • Josh,

        Teleconnections are not something that is given much time in a meteorology degrees which is too bad. So much to learn from them.


      • Josh – typically I follow the PNA, NAO, and AO. The NAO and AO are very closely related as they share a common point. The AO is measured within the Polar Easterlies. Often I use it more than the NAO in determining cold air potential. The NAO gets more buzz as it is more east coast centric. The PNA is a East Pac/West Coast indicator that helps understand degrees of troughiness/ridginess with waves entering the US. The AO has been a HUGE factor last year and this regarding the cold air intrusions and associated southern shifts in baroclinic zones. Understanding how they all work together as well as the LRC can help understand the variance we see in the patterns.


  3. Monday, February 21, 2011 8:25 pm

    Hi Mark,

    A couple of times over the last hour or so, I checked the irad. Looks like a pretty big ‘bunch’ of snow is headed my way and pretty fast too. If it’s of any use for your record keeping, had occasional light snow on and off around here today. At present, my driveway has a uniform coating just thick enough (1/8 inch?) to make the blacktop surface look white.

    Tony (Pl. Prairie)

    • Hey, Tony,
      Thanks for the update. Mainly light snow lasting much of the night. You should end up with 2″-3″.


      • Tuesday, February 22, 2011 9:30 am

        Hi Mark,

        2 inches of snow on driveway! Present conditions are overcast, light east wind.

        Tony (Pl. Prairie)

  4. Mark and LRC followers, how do you see this Thursday night’s system matching up with the LRC?

    • Dan,

      If you look back in November and January, the brunt of the moisture stays south. Right now, NAM, Euro, and RPM try to bring us snow on Thursday night. GFS is south. I would go with GFS solution right now.


  5. 12z NAM and GFS both have this not even clipping Chicago. LRC prevails again.

    • As much as I love the LRC, I’m a little bummed about this lol… good call though, Mark

  6. Hi Jeremy,

    Last night’s snow total in Oostburg was 3 inches.


    • Thank you, Sue.

  7. Hi, Jeremy and Mark!

    Overnight Monday snow fall amounted to 1 and 3/4″ here in Reeseville. Combine with the Sunday event, we have had 4 and 3/4″ of accumulation since the warm-up.

    Do you anticipate any changes to the forecast of little to nothng Thursday/Friday? Last night Mark said it was really close to call. Any idea when you’ll have a better handle on it? Are the models moving it north and south with every run like they have with all the other systems?

    Also, please tell Sally that her story about the weather and how we feel was right on! My knees and ankles appreciated her verification!

    One more suggestion — sometime, when things are “benign” weather wise, might you explain to those of us who are not as “in the know” as others, what each of the models stand for and how they work. I, for one, would find that interesting and informative.



    • Don, I will do a blog about all the models soon. Good suggestion. Thanks.


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