KHQ WEATHER AUTHORITY: The snow is on its way! - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

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KHQ WEATHER AUTHORITY: The snow is on its way!

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SPOKANE, Wash. -

Well here we are Monday morning and back to work. Now 48 hours closer to Thursday’s potential snow event. Over the weekend I assumed there would be some clarity, some alignment, like the stars coming together to give us a clear picture as to what may happen Thursday… Instead models still look like mud. And not the sort of mud you that’s liquidy thick… I’m talking thick, like so thick you wouldn’t let your 3 year old play with the mud thick, because you won't get that stain out, or they may mistake it for chocolate thick…

On Saturday last time I wrote we talked about differences between the models, timing, snow amounts, placement of the low etc…. and now here we are Monday, and there is only one thing for certain. Mother Nature will do, what Mother Nature wants to do. So throughout this, I will do my best to break down scenarios for snow this coming Thursday and Friday, because minor differences could mean the difference in several inches of snow for Spokane. Here is what I will say; yes, there will be snow. Yes, it will be an inconvenience. Yes, you will likely have to shovel your driveways. But no, I do not know, nor can I say with certainty how much we will see.

So where to begin? How about timing of this event… There are still several discrepancies with timing as to how soon snow will start to fall. For timing I have used 4 different models. The NAM or the North American Mesoscale Model, the GFS or Global Forecast System, the ECMWF or European Model and the GEM which is the Canadian Model. All four have different strengths and resolutions. When I say resolutions, I mean the level of detail each model outputs per square kilometer.

I’ll start with the Euro, the picture is for forecast hour 90 which puts it at about 10PM Thursday night. A nice band of moisture as you can see, pushing into Washington with the heaviest band of snow sometime overnight into Friday morning.

From here, things get really strange because timing changes from here so what I’ll do is just go earlier and earlier.

To the GEM and the NAM we go. Both have moisture moving in right around the commute at 4pm or so with the initial band of snow. The NAM is slightly slower than the GEM with moisture, positioning it just to the south by 4pm while the GEM has moisture already falling around the 4PM commute. Pictures of both are below.

Finally the GFS has the moisture moving in the earliest also has the highest amounts of snowfall as well. GFS has moisture starting at 10am Thursday morning.

So quite a bit of discrepancy between the models as we head into Thursday. At this point it’s kind of throw a dart and pick one. My honest opinion would be that snow will likely start sometime during the day on Thursday.

Of course the big story is how much. Again, lets get the magic eight ball out and give it a shake! We are all over the place. For predicting snow, unfortunately the NAM only goes out to 84 hours, which would be the start of the event so we only get to use the EURO and GFS. Both of these models right now are like two brothers fighting over the last piece of bread on Thanksgiving. Each one wants it, but neither wants to give it up. Models are doing the same thing. GFS has been stubborn with being early to start snow and has higher amounts. On the other side, the Euro is later with the start of snowfall and shows lower amounts.

Below is a picture from the EURO model showing about 4” ending Friday. Again, it has been trending drier and later in the day but has been very consistent in its thinking.

Again take these amounts with a grain of salt because as we get closer these numbers will likely change. The GFS is the other I will show, which has much higher amounts ending at the same time so you can see the models still not agreeing one bit!

There are other graphics we use as well. Below are graphs of the GFS/NAM model on the Meteogram Generator showing about 4” ending on Friday at noon. The NAM is plotted on there but only reaches to forecast hour 84. Still need more model runs to start to see accumulating snowfall start to be plotted. Remember the NAM was showing late afternoon and evening for snow, while the GFS was much earlier.

Finally we use other plots of data from the GFS called the Global Ensemble Forecast which takes into account several more runs from the GFS and plots them. There are several models plotted and is showing once again a wide range with the average being around 4” for a 24 hour period.

My overall thought on this coming Thursday is that snow is likely. It will be just a matter of how much once again and when will it start. I have laid out several scenarios that could happen with timing and amounts. As we get closer to Thursday expect and hope that models start to agree on a solution. I think the National Weather Service though has a fair assessment of a range of 3 - 4.5”.

Going forward, this is an “only time will tell” sort of scenario. I’ll say it is safe to say that snow is likely on Thursday, but how much? We will just have to wait and see!

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