Sunday, December 09, 2007

NWS Springfield, Illinois Ice Storm Shuffle

Dave of The11thhour writes a regular feature pitting the National Weather Service's predictions against The Weather Channel's. I'm not really certain why there are differences, but there are.

This morning as rain continues to pour down upon the city of Springfield, Illinois, and Central Illinois in general I am very concerned about the potential for massive power outages, and treacherous road conditions during this freezing cold weather.

I too am a bit confused by some of the predictions coming from our weather experts. Here's an example from the State Journal-Register:

"Steadier freezing rain will begin around dawn (today), causing significant problems during the morning hours," said Dan Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Lincoln. He said the heaviest precipitation is expected from 5 to 7 a.m. in Springfield and the surrounding areas.

"It will turn into light rain by (this) afternoon as temperatures slowly hedge around the freezing mark, right around or just over."Counties including Sangamon, Cass, Christian, Logan, Menard, Morgan and Scott were placed under an ice storm warning Saturday that will continue until noon today. The warning indicates ice-covered roads are treacherous and power lines and tree branches may snap.

...

Smith said periods of freezing rain were to continue the rest of Saturday night, with temperatures expected to hold steady early today between 25 to 29 degrees.

Warmer air is expected to change the freezing rain to rain later in the afternoon. However, the National Weather Service warns the rain may result in more ice accumulation before causing it to melt.

"On the backside of the system, we might see some freezing drizzle but nothing significant," Smith said.

If people must travel this morning, the National Weather Services advises motorists to keep an extra flashlight, food and water in their vehicle in case of an emergency.

So, things are bad, and getting worse, but will get better? Wow! This is what we're paying for? That's quite a prediction from the NWS.

We have rain coming down over an area that's freezing cold. I'd say that's pretty significant. To suggest that rain may cause the ice to melt, but build up more ice before it does so - sounds very predictive, but doesn't say much really. In the past I'd say the NWS has had no idea of whether more or less ice will form at a particular point in an ice storm, but this prediction isn't really that tough to make because eventually the ice will melt - it's only a matter of time.

In the meantime, everyone be careful out there.

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