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Beau's Journey » 2009 » January » 25

Archive: January 25th, 2009

January 25, 2009: Major winter storm approaching…

  Well, it had to happen eventually.  It looks like Old Man Winter is going to hit our region hard.  A mixture of snow, sleet, and freezing rain will move into our counties on Monday night and Tuesday.  Precipitation may continue into Wednesday.

  As far as amounts.  Very tough call.  I am expecting around 1/2" of freezing rain across portions of West KY.  On top of that will be 1-3" of sleet and perhaps 1-3 inches of snow.  Precipitation type is hard to forecast.  Hopefully tomorrow things will be a bit more clear.

  A winter storm watch has been issued for our entire region (much of the Ohio Valley).

  I got my generator ready – 10 gallons of gas – a bit of extra food and other provisions.  I believe we are ready for whatever happens.

  Worst case scenario is a major ice storm.  Some areas could be without power for days or weeks.  Hoping for the best.

 Here is my email forecast that I sent out yesterday…pretty much sums it up


Ice storm and winter storm warnings cover all of our counties. Monday Morning – 8 AM Update

Next update will be this afternoon

Please read carefully as there will be major forecast challenges from one county to the next.  Impacts will NOT be the same in each county of our area.  Please keep this in mind as far as storm expectations.

Major to catastrophic ice storm (for some of our counties) – snow – Tonight through Wednesday

Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee


There has been very little change in guidance over the last few days.  Everything appears on tap for a major winter storm to impact all of our region.

The biggest question that I have is precipitation type.  A few miles will make all the difference between amounts.

At this time it appears the heaviest band of precipitation will be from the Missouri Bootheel through Graves County, Kentucky and then northeastward.  Areas to the north and south of that line will receive less but still heavy totals.

At this time – best forecast that I have is that areas along and north of the Ohio River will receive a bit more snow than ice.  Those areas will also see sleet and freezing rain.  Ballard and McCracken County southward will see more sleet and freezing rain than snow.  Snow will still fall in these counties as well.

The first round of precipitation should move into our counties after 7 PM tonight.  Precipitation could be heavy at times.  Thunderstorms are possible.  Rapid accumulations of snow, sleet, and freezing rain will occur.  This first round of precipitation will likely produce 0.25-0.50" of freezing rain, 1-3 inches of sleet, 2-4" of snow (depending on what county you are in).  A real mixed bag of precipitation.

Damaging accumulations of freezing rain will be most likely across the Missouri Bootheel, Kentucky, and portions of Western Tennessee. 

Round two of precipitation will move into our region on Tuesday afternoon and night.  This precipitation could also be moderate to heavy at times.  I am hoping that colder air will filter into the region and change much of this precipitation to snow instead of freezing rain.  If this precipitation does remain as freezing rain then this will cause additional damage to trees and power lines.

Total freezing rain accumulations could exceed 1" across some of our counties – especially our southern counties.  This will cause major to catastrophic damage to trees and power lines.  Extended power outages from days to weeks will be possible across some counties. 

At this time I believe that Paducah will see a mixed bag of precipitation.  Snow, sleet, and freezing rain.  Accumulations of ice in Paducah will likely be 0.25"-0.50".  Sleet and snow accumulations could exceed 3 inches.  Ice accumulations of 1/2" will likely bring down some tree limbs and power lines.  We will have to monitor just how much of the precipitation falls as sleet vs freezing rain.  It will make all the difference as far as damage impact.

Any slight shift in track of this storm will cause higher or lower accumulations.  Updated forecasts will be issued through tonight.

This is a very dangerous winter storm.  This will be a high impact event.  I expect thousands of people to be without power across PORTIONS OF OUR REGION.

Not everyone will see damage to trees and power lines.  Current guidance suggests there will be a sharp change in precipitation amounts from one county to the next.  It is possible that Mayfield could see freezing rain accumulations of over 1" while Metropolis, Illinois could see less than 1/2" (just an example). 

Everyone should make preparations for the possibility of power outages in our region.  I am sure this will be the top news story for some time to come.  This is a high impact event.

I will update the forecast this afternoon and again tonight (or as information changes).

Beau Dodson
Meteorological Specialist for the Paducah/McCracken County Office of Emergency Management