Record-breaking cold

Anyone out there who wants to be a meteorologist (especially a TV meteorologist) should always remember to check the records when dealing with extreme cold. I have not heard any of the local TV mets nor the NWS mentioning the possibility of this arctic outbreak being a record-breaker, but a look at the Bowling Green temperature records suggests a couple are in jeopardy.

The NWS office in Louisville has a nice climatology page that allows users to look at daily weather history dating back to 2002. They also have a nice page that allows you (if you scroll to the bottom) to find the normals for each month in Bowling Green as well as the daily temperature records .

Starting with Saturday, 2/3, here are the record low temperatures and the record low maximum temperatures for Bowling Green (with the year of occurrence)…

Saturday: Low -18 (1951), High 18 (1870)
Sunday: Low -10 (1886), High 17 (1902)
Monday: Low -20 (1886/1917), High 14 (1917)
Tuesday: Low -2 (1886), High 21 (1978/1984)
Wednesday: Low -5 (1984), High 11 (1895)

Here is my forecast for the same period…

Saturday: Low 10, High 23
Sunday: Low 6, High 25
Monday: Low 6, High 16
Tuesday: Low 0, High 18
Wednesday: Low 6, High 25

You can then break down the probability of a new record in each of the ten time periods…

No chance: The record lows on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday morning. These will not be broken. There is no way the lows will fall lower than -10.

Slight chance: The record low on Wednesday and the record low maximums on Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday. I think we could be within a couple of degrees of these values, but we need a much deeper snow cover and less air-mass modification to do it.

Good chance: The record low on Tuesday and the record low maximums on Monday and Tuesday are in danger. In meteorological terms, they are “sitting ducks”, which means they are a record due to be broken. My forecast is within a couple of degrees of the records, and if the arctic air mass is colder than I think, it is not unreasonable that one or all of these three records could be broken.

Any time you can communicate to the public about how the current extreme weather conditions compares to records, you show them the depth of your understanding of weather and climate.

As for the snow…I haven’t changed my thinking there. One to two inches looks good. However, I don’t think we’ll see as much wintry mix as some people have been saying. To me it looks cold enough for nearly all snow. And by the way, the HPC has removed KY and TN from the 4″+ risk area.

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