Upcoming Major Winter/Snowstorm and Potential Polar Vortex

A winter storm is likely to bring significant snowfall to parts of the Southern Plains tonight into Sunday with snowfall amounts of 4-8" likely to occur across portions of eastern New Mexico and in areas of western to north-central Texas. Isolated snowfall totals exceeding 8" are possible. Heavy snowfall rates could exceed 1"/hour which may result in poor visibility and lead to some hazardous travel. Also, signs/signals of an upcoming late month blast of cold air possible causing a disruption in our polar vortex. Lastly, no severe weather expected across the CONUS for the next couple of days.


Looking at 300mb there is a sharp amplitude ridge over the western CONUS and a deep trough/low is moving across the four corner region. This upper-level trough is bringing a push of cold air. From there, the system is expected to swing to the east moving into the southern Rockies Saturday night and early Sunday. Favorable forcing along the left-exit region of the associated upper jet, along with low-level southeasterly flow at the SFC across Texas will support developing precipitation along the Colorado and New Mexico Rockies eastward into the High Plains, including southwestern Kansas and the Panhandle region by late today. Deep/strong easterly flow focused across northeastern New Mexico through the evening into the overnight hours will likely help support periods of heavy snow along the foothills and mountains.

As the system continues to move east, precipitation will continue to spread farther south and east across TX on Sunday. Thermal profiles suggest precipitation beginning as all snow across much of Panhandle-Plains Sunday morning. With ample moisture in place, a period of strong forcing through the morning hours is expected to support a stripe of heavy snows centered around Lubbock where snow probabilities are moderately high for 6" or more with moderate probabilities for 4" or more from the southern TX Panhandle and much of west TX then east into North TX. Dynamic cooling is expected to help draw the rain-snow line

farther east across North TX into eastern TX on Sunday. Model guidance does favor a stripe of moderate accumulations with accumulating snows are expected to move into the ArkLaTex region Sunday evening where Day 2 snow probabilities are 20 to 30 percent for 2 or more inches.


72 Hour Snowfall Map

72 Hour Snowfall Map Texas/New Mexico Zoom

72 Hour Regional Forecast


Current NWS Hazards:


Polar Vortex

In yesterday's video, we talked a little about the polar vortex or some signs in the disruption of our polar vortex. Models continue to suggest some Sudden Stratospheric Warming occurring on the 16-18th of January over Russian which will weaken the winds over the area allowing the air to sink and warm. This will displace that polar vortex allowing the polar vortex to move to cause some of that air to possibly spill into northern CONUS. Now a lot of uncertainty remains, how strong will this stratospheric warming be, where will this cold air spill in, how cold will it get, and how long with this disruption occur. The polar vortex is often considered to be a stratospheric phenomenon, but our AO index measures the ‘surface expression’ of the polar vortex.” As we take a look at our teleconnections looking at the AO we see back in November the AO was positive and became Negative in December. As we look at the forecast it is forecasted to rise to more neutral conditions with a sudden drop at the time of the sudden stratospheric warming. This again is showing the weakening of the polar vortex with these weaker upper-level winds due to the Sudden Stratospheric Warming.

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