Snowpack in action and soggy weather coming

Nov. 23, 2015: Our mild November was interrupted by a winter preview, to say the least. The impressive snowfall from this past weekend will be melting away this week as we get back to fall weather, at least for a few days.

The warm-up will be slow at first, however, thanks to the properties of the snowpack.  We see this a lot in the winter, when the mercury in the thermometers across the Stateline barely rises between the weak winter sunshine and a layer of snow on the ground.

cloud coverThe white color of the snow reflects light, resulting in the sun’s energy mostly bouncing back into the atmosphere.  Whatever doesn’t get reflected, which isn’t much, goes into melting the snow. The ground, therefore, doesn’t get warmed up, so our air temperature in turn barely warms. Without the snowpack, the sun’s energy goes into heating up the ground, which in turn heats up the air (as happens all year round on a normal, snow-free day).

temperature midwestWe saw that in action today across the Midwest. There’s an area of blue on the map showing temperatures in the 30’s across Iowa and into Illinois and Michigan, surrounded by warmer weather. A close-by locations, like La Crosse, WI and Minneapolis, MN, didn’t get much snow at all this weekend, and warmed into the middle 40’s, or 10° warmer than we here in the Stateline with over 9″ of snow on the ground.

PATTERN PATTERN 2The weather should warm up to the 50’s by Thanksgiving, meaning a lot of the snow will be melted away by the time Thursday rolls around. By that time, the atmosphere will be warm enough for rain, and we may see a lot of it. A wet pattern sets up by Thursday, giving us possibly up to an inch of rain between Thursday and Friday.

pattern 3For those traveling this week, the weather will have activity elsewhere. Rain and snow hit the Pacific Northwest tomorrow, then snow and freezing rain move into the Midwest by Thanksgiving. We will be under the soaking showers, while the East Coast looks to stay quiet and mild for most of the week.

Safe travels to anyone leaving for the holidays, and stay tuned for updates on the rainy weather this week if you are staying close to home!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on November 23, 2015

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