2:00 PM CST | December 31, 2018
It is the last day of December, and it is actually a mild one across the state. Many locations picked up some nice rainfall last night and early this morning. Now, our attention turns to the winter weather potential beginning late tomorrow. A cold front is barreling southward through the Central Plains. If you have followed Texas Storm Watch, you know I like to actually compare real-time temperatures to the model guidance. The temperature in Goodland, Kansas is 16*F this afternoon. This is 4*F colder than the hourly model guidance, and it is 10*F colder than this morning's GFS (American) model. What this means is that, not surprisingly, the weather models appear to be struggling with the shallow nature of this Arctic airmass. Even the NAM model, which handles this type of airmass better than its competitors, is several degrees too warm. The real-time temperature trends will be key to the southern and eastern extent of the Freezing Rain/Sleet potential Tuesday night through Wednesday. The weather models can show what they wish, but what matters is what is actually happening. This is the latest graphic from the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.
I drew up a graphic myself showing where freezing rain and sleet is most likely as the precipitation type Tuesday night through Wednesday. The favored area is western parts of North Central Texas. Farther north and northwest, the precipitation will favor snow. To the east and southeast, rain is much more likely. The greatest precipitation amounts will actually be across eastern sections of the highlighted area, BUT the freezing temperatures are less certain than areas farther west. The gradient between those who see ice and those who see rain will be fairly tight. You may see all rain, but a friend 15 minutes away may see ice.
Generally speaking, I expect travel impacts for parts of the state beginning late tomorrow into Thursday. As the core of the system moves into Texas/Oklahoma, we should see more snow than freezing rain/sleet. This would be during the Wednesday night-Thursday period. I wish this update could be more specific, but what we don't know, we don't know. I would keep an eye on your local forecast, and if you will be traveling, plan accordingly. For the latest local weather information for your area, please visit the National Weather Service website. You can also find us on Facebook. I will post periodic updates on both the Facebook page and group. If you haven't already, join the group to help make sure you do not miss any updates. Also, winter weather reports are greatly appreciated!