We continue to monitor the potential for some wintry weather over the next 7 days. Our first chance at a few flakes would come Thursday night into Friday morning.
Cold air rushes in to catch some cold rain falling across North Alabama and Southern Tennessee Thursday night. As it does, we could see a transition from a cold rain, to a bit of a rain/snow mix. For the vast majority of us, I think the ground will be too warm, and the transition too late, to get accumulations. There may be a few exceptions to that though, mainly in the higher terrain in Northeast Alabama. As is often the case, if you live on a ridgetop or mountain, you’ve got a better chance to see a little snow stick Thursday night into Friday morning.
These kinds of setups can be sneaky sometimes. We often get surprised in setups like this, where one or two communities get lucky, and hit a snow jackpot. It’s possible that could happen with this. It’s also possible that most of us see nothing but cold rain. Either way, the vast majority of us will see no real impacts with this setup.
What about next week?
While social media continues to show each and every single model run, flip flopping between crazy snow totals, and nothing at all, not a ton has really changed going into next week. The pattern still supports some scenarios that could possibly produce some snow. Those individual model runs aren’t a super useful tool at this point in the game. A slightly better tool to look at how likely wintry weather is, is using what we call ensemble models. This is sort of like running a bunch of similar forecast models at once. By doing that, we can see how often a particular thing is likely to occur. So what happens with this forecast when we look at the ensembles?
The GFS ensembles continues to be a bit bearish on snow chances, but still show some potential paths where we could see at least a little light snow if any at all. The European ensemble is more bullish on both the chance for some snow accumulation Thursday night, and again Sunday into Monday.
So, why are these better than the models you’ve been seeing posted all over Facebook and Twitter?
The models you often see on social media are sort of like the single puck you drop in a game of Plinko. The odds of hitting that $10,000 slot aren’t great! What the ensembles do is drop a lot of those Plinko pucks all at once. Will most of them be wrong? Probably! But a few will be closer to the right answer. We use these ensemble models to give us a better idea of the range of possibilities we can expect to occur. So, while we’re close enough to get a bit more specific with what we expect to happen Thursday night (we’re within 3 days of that now, so the picture is a little more clear), the system next Sunday night into Monday is still too far off to make specific forecasts with any significant level of skill. As we get closer to the start of next week, we can narrow down the potential outcomes more, and give you a better idea of whether this an event for snow lovers to get excited about, or a dud.