Widespread precipitation continues to dominate the forecast for Friday and Saturday.  The latest estimate for rainfall accumulation is trending higher with impressive totals across the southern half of north central Texas down into central and parts of southeast Texas as well.  What’s still up in the air (pun intended) will be the exact nature of the winter weather threats across the panhandle and northwest Texas Friday and Saturday.  Today’s forecast models, both short-range and long-range, did little to instill confidence in how the details will shake out by later this week, but we’re still confident that we will see winter mischief across much of the panhandle and northwest Texas Friday into Saturday…but will it be mostly snow; will it be sleet or freezing rain; will it be light or heavy…those remain the primary uncertainties that forecasters across the area are dealing with.  And as always, forecasting winter weather in Texas is tricky as we are pretty far south and it’s tough for sub-freezing air to reach our area without encountering significant modification (warming) on its journey.  As of right now two of the three main long-range models, the European Model and the Canadian Model, have come in a bit colder and somewhat deeper with the subfreezing air.  As mentioned in yesterday’s blog, the deeper the cold air, the more likely the precipitation mode will be snow versus sleet or freezing rain.  The NAM short-range model also seems to be trending colder as well.   As one forecaster pointed out this evening, with snow still on the ground as far south as I-70 in Kansas, it’s highly likely that the cold front expected to arrive on Thursday will come in a few degrees colder because current snowpack across the northern states and down into Kansas will work to inhibit some modification of the airmass (warming) as it travels south.  This may not be something the forecast models are picking up on at the moment.  They all struggled today projecting daytime highs for areas north of our state that were never realized due to persistent cloud cover not represented in the models.  Again, if temps north of us remain cooler Wednesday and Thursday and there’s still plenty of snow remaining to our north, then the front has a better chance of arriving cooler than what’s currently forecasted.  Hopefully the models will catch up to reality overnight and we can see better consensus when we look at the data tomorrow morning.

The two forecast graphics below represent this evening’s simulated model runs for 9am Friday morning and 9pm Friday evening.  Areas in blue represent snow as the main type of precipitation.  Areas in purple represent sleet.  Areas in pink represent mainly a mix of snow/freezing rain/sleet.  Green is obviously rain, and the shades of yellow and orange would be indicative of areas receiving heavy rainfall which may include some thunder.  While it’s not likely that we’ll see the threat of wintry weather shift much further south into north central Texas, we will be keeping an eye on it and the overall winter weather forecast for our friends in the panhandle and western portions of north Texas as the forecast continues to develop tomorrow and Thursday.  Please continue to check back!