As of midday Saturday, temperatures were moderating into the low 40ss under sunny skies with gusty southerly winds. This warm up will only be a brief warm tease however before another arctic cold front plows through the area on Sunday. Along this front is a wave of low pressure and a upper atmospheric disturbance which will cause precipitation to fall across south-central Kentucky beginning in the early morning hours Sunday and continuing into Sunday night. With the warmer air that is filtering in today with the southerly winds, precipitation is expected to again be primarily rain. If precipitation moves in before 8 am tomorrow morning there could be some sleet mixed in with the rain briefly; however that is for the most part unlikely and even it it did occur, there would be no impacts as it would be above freezing and it would quickly transition to all rain. Rain really is not expected to begin until the 10 am to 1 pm time frame. Rain could be fairly steady during the afternoon hours Sunday with 0.20" - 0.40" of rain generally falling in the area; a few locations could see as much as a half an inch of rain. Then comes the transition to snow.
Current thinking (an even at this late hour it could change) is that rain will change to snow between 4-7 pm as a very powerful cold front will move through and quickly cause temperatures to plummet. Temperatures will rapidly fall from the low 40s around 3 pm to the low 20s by 8 pm. With temperatures dropping so quickly any moisture from the rain and the initially melting snow could cause a layer of ice to form in some locations beneath the snow, especially by Monday morning when temperatures are near 0. As for the snow... there will be a quick burst of light to moderate snow, similar to that of Thursday only lasting just a little longer. With rain changing to snow generally around 6 pm and continuing until around 9-10 pm snow totals should generally be 1-3 inches. Travel will certainly be impacted once the rain changes to snow and through the overnight hours into Monday. Both the freezing of rain water/melted snow and the snow itself will create slick conditions. Travel is certainly not advised. Snow will remain on the ground and untreated/uncleared roads for several days as an arctic air mass unlike we have seen for many years. Thus travel could be an issue on some roads until temperatures warm above freezing which likely will not occur until Wednesday. Also some road treatment materials will not work in the extreme cold temperatures which we are expected Sunday night - Tuesday. Light snow showers and flurries are also possible on Monday which could lead to additional accumulation of around a half an inch... just enough to continue potential travel problems.
As for the cold, many comparisons to the cold outbreak are being made to January of 1994. The last time we saw below 0 temperatures in Bowling Green was February* of 2011 when the airport dipped to -3 but the extended cold we are expecting early this week is not really comparable to that event. Getting to the details... the powerful cold front which will move through Sunday afternoon will quickly drop temperatures as already mentioned. Once temperatures begin dropping Sunday afternoon they will not stop until Monday morning when temperatures are expected to dip near 0. Cloudy skies, snow showers and continued cold west to northwest winds on Monday will not allow temperatures to rise above 5! Meanwhile the blustery winds will cause wind chill values to drop into the -15 to -25 range early Monday morning into Monday afternoon and overnight Monday to Tuesday morning! According the National Weather Service, frostbite can begin in just 30 minutes of exposure to these temperatures. In other words, going outside on Monday into Tuesday morning is not suggested if it can be avoided. If you must go outdoors, do so for short periods of time and dress in layers. Monday evening into Tuesday morning temperatures will again drop below 0, possibly dropping as low as -4 in some areas! Again, wind chills will remain in the -15 to -25 range. Skies will likely start out partly to mostly cloudy on Tuesday with skies becoming partly cloudy by the afternoon. It will remain very cold Tuesday with highs expected to climb to the mid teens. Wind chills will remain cold in the 5 to -5 range by midday into the overnight. Temperatures will not drop as much Tuesday night winds turn from the south west to south thus bringing in some welcome "warmer" air. By Wednesday morning temperatures will only be near 10 and temperatures may just eclipse the freezing mark on Wednesday though another chance of wintry weather moves in Wednesday night into Thursday. More details on that system later. (*this post originally said January in error)
Certainly with these cold conditions, be sure to put extra insulation on pipes if needed and during the cold weather allow faucets to drip. Also be sure to protect outdoor animals! If at all possible bring pets indoors during this cold blast. If you must go outside, do so for only short periods of time and dress in layers... exposed skin could develop frostbite in just 30 minutes of exposure with the forecasted cold temperatures.
Tonight: 20% chance of rain (could be mixed with sleet briefly). Low of 32 early before warming to around 37 by 6 am. Southerly winds at 6 - 14 mph.
Sunday: Winter Weather Advisory from 2 pm - Midnight. Rain should begin steadily between 10 am - 1 pm and continue into the evening before changing to snow. Between 0.20" - 0.40" of rain is expected. Rain should change to snow between 4 pm and 7 pm and light to moderate snow thereafter.Temperatures will warm to near 44 before falling during the late afternoon. Temperatures are expected dip below freezing around 5 - 7 pm. Chance of precipitation 95%. South-southwest winds before the front at 8 - 15 mph. West to west-northwest winds behind the front at 15-25 mph with gusts over 30 mph.
Sunday Night: Winter Weather Advisory until Midnight. 90% chance of snow before midnight. Snow should tapper off around 9-10 pm. Total snow accumulation of 1-3 inches possible. Turning Cold! Temperatures timeline... 6 pm: ~31; 9 pm: ~17; Midnight: ~10; 3 am: ~6; 6 am: ~1; Low near 0. Blustery winds from the northwest at 12-22 mph; gusts over 25 mph. Wind chills will get as low as -15 to -25!
Monday: COLD! Cloudy with a 50% chance of light snow showers/snow flurries. Less than a half an inch of snow possible. High near 2! Blustery with winds from the northwest at 10-20 mph. Wind chills will range from -15 to -25!
Monday Night: COLD! Mostly cloudy with a low around -3. A few flurries possible. Winds from west-northwest at 5-12 mph. Wind chills in the -15 to -25 range.
Tuesday: COLD! Mostly cloudy early becoming partly to mostly sunny by the afternoon. High near 16. Winds from the west to southwest at 8-15 mph. Wind chills ranging from 5 to -5.
Forecater: Ryan Difani