I find meteorologists an entertaining bunch. Or so they have been all weekend, what with all the portending of doom and predicting of glacial nightmares. And for all the hoopla and fuss, what have we received?
Rain. Just rain. Wet rain. Liquid water falling from the sky. Puddles of the mess all over the ground.
Ice? Not so much.
Don’t get me wrong. A minutes-long drive west or north would reveal a very different world. Going further in those directions… Well, it would be a mess.
You see, we here in Dallas have enjoyed the company of two friends capable of mitigating the wintry threat.
The first one, of course, is the freeze line. It continues hovering in the middle of the county. That means our temperatures range from just above to just below freezing.
The second friend is the dynamics of the storm itself. The cold air at the surface is quite shallow. About 2,000 feet (600 meters) above the surface, temperatures are well above freezing. In fact, it is so warm that thunderstorms have rolled through continually, regardless of whether they were dropping sleet, snow, freezing rain, or plain old liquid rain. But why is that important? Because the cold air is so shallow and the warm air so near the surface, precipitation tends to drag the warmth to the surface. This results in temperature spikes under heavy downpours. If rain begins while it’s just below freezing, you can almost guarantee the deluge will cause the temperature to climb above freezing. That has meant very little ice on the ground because it melts during those spikes, after which the temperature falls back below freezing until the next storm.
So I scoff at the meteorologists. Not that they can be blamed. This storm presents such a high entropic profile that it remains near impossible to predict its outcome in certain places… like where I live.
But my flippant disregard for their expertise likely will end soon. A reinforcing surge of cold air is expected to drop us well below freezing. That will negate the temperature spikes altogether. It also will push the freeze line south and east of us, in which case we lose the uncertainty it creates by remaining stationary directly over us.
Until then, parts of Dallas will see ice accumulation while others see chilly rain.
Thankfully, it appears the heaviest of the precipitation will have passed before our temperatures plummet. But not all of it.
All of that means we still have a chance of getting ice between now and tomorrow morning. I think the threat has been reduced significantly, however, although there remains a good chance that we will see bad to treacherous conditions by morning. Those north and west of us, on the other hand, are pretty much screwed.
Despite the lack of wintry weather, it has proved to be a nice weekend. Cold and wet. Cloudy. Gloomy in all the right ways. The very real possibility of things turning ugly without notice as we teeter on the edge of an arctic chasm.
Meanwhile, the second wave should strike later this afternoon and into the evening, and the third wave should strike after midnight and into tomorrow morning. Timing is everything since the colder air headed for us could dramatically change the outcome in my area.
Ah, the joys of Texas winters. Don’t try forecasting it. You’ll know what’s going to happen when it happens. Sounds like the rest of the year.