A big change in the weather pattern is coming, which means Kansas City could see significant amounts of snow, rain and ice in early February.
“It appears likely that a winter storm will develop over the central or southern Plains early next week,” said Dan Hawblitzel, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill, Mo.
That storm system is expected to bring heavy snowfall, but how much and where is too early to tell.
“We really can’t get detailed this far in advance,” Hawblitzel said.
For this week, Kansas City started to warm up. Temperatures reached 43 degrees by mid-afternoon Wednesday at the Wheeler Downtown Airport. Thursday is also expected to be warmer as highs are expected to reach into the mid-40s.
There are two chances for snow before the end of the week. The first one is Thursday night. A very narrow band of precipitation could form. While not everyone would see snow, those who do could see up to an inch of accumulation.
The second chance for light snow is late Friday afternoon and evening. One to two inches is possible in the Kansas City area while some parts of northern Missouri could get up to 4 inches of snow.
The weekend will be a colder with highs in the 30s on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
For most of January, the jet stream has been sweeping in from the north over the Plains.
This brought several clipper systems and snow to the east of Kansas City and kept the eastern part of the country extremely cold this winter.
“It was an usually persistent pattern through most of the month,” Hawblitzel said.
But that is changing as a high pressure in the west breaks down.
“That is going to allow the storm track to reach much further south into the West Coast and then tracking up into the Plains and Midwest,” Hawblitzel said. “That means more winter storms will be developing further west and south than they have been this winter, which will increase our chances for accumulating snow starting this weekend and heading into next week.”
Forecasters can’t start predicting exact amounts until two or three days out.
“For that system next week, we aren’t going to have a good idea until maybe this weekend,” he said.
For now, all that Hawblitzel said he can do is give us a general heads-up.
“There can be a stripe of heavy snow or ice anywhere across that region,” he said. “It’s looking to be Tuesday or Wednesday. As for where, that can be anywhere from Oklahoma and Arkansas to Nebraska and Iowa, or anywhere in between.”
Heavy snow generally is six inches or more, he said.
The change in the weather pattern will affect temperatures as well.
“We aren’t going to see the arctic surges that we’ve been seeing the past few weeks,” Hawblitzel said. “Temperatures will still be running near or slightly below normal.”
So far for the month, Kansas City had an average temperature of 24.6 degrees, making it the 27th coldest January on record.
“It has averaged out to a little colder than normal because we’ve been on the edge of the really cold air which has been especially hitting areas hard to our north and east,” Hawblitzel said. “We’ve had a few warm spells this month that have averaged out the temperature to be a little closer to normal.”
So far for January, Kansas City has had 5.1 inches of snow, which is an inch above normal. Precipitation, however, is at .36 of inch, which is almost .6 of an inch below normal.
“We are not officially in a drought,” Hawblitzel said. “We are classified as abnormally dry.”