Arctic Plunge

The coldest air that west Texas has ever seen for Valentine's Day weekend is headed our way. The real cold air started to affect the area on Tuesday with clouds and fog. That continued today (Wednesday) with freezing fog, light snow and freezing drizzle. The setup for Thursday is looking much of the same with highs in the low 30s and freezing fog in the morning. However, the surge of extremely cold air will arrive on Friday morning. Lubbock will start Friday off with a low of 20°. The high is only forecast to be 31°. Then the awful, cold, Arctic air jets in. I'm talking about a low of 14° Saturday morning, with a high of only 23°.

Bundle up, stay inside and stay warm on Sunday. The low is forecast to be 7°, with a high of 14°. It gets worse...and this is what the pictures above are forecasting. Monday morning. Ouch. Awful. Terrible. The forecast from the three different models above are showing lows in the low single digits, with negative temperatures possible in the northwestern counties. Lubbock is forecast to see a low of 3°, with a high of only 20°. The record low high temperature (meaning coldest day) for Saturday is 23° set in 1968. We are looking to tie that this year. The record low temperature for Saturday is 7° set in 1963. Sunday's record low temperature is 12° set in 2004. We're going to shatter that the low of 3°. The record low high temperature for Saturday is 25°. Once again, that's gone with the forecast high of 23°. Sunday's record low temperature is 8° 1951. We're going to get to 3°. The record low high temperature for Sunday is 30°. Our forecast high is 14°. At least we're getting something out of this cold.

The big thing to keep in mind for this weekend is to bring any plants inside, definitely keep your pets indoors (except to go potty) and drip ALL of your faucets because you don't want your pipes to burst. Please be safe and limit time outside this weekend.

On to the snow. This is actually the more complicated part of the forecast for the weekend. We know for sure it is going to be cold. The models have been back and forth regarding the snow and how fast this system will move. If this is a fast moving system, don't expect much snow. If it is a slower moving system, the snow can pile up. There are three different model forecasts in the photos above. The two American models are fairly consistent with the timing of the snow and show this now moving a bit faster than the forecast yesterday. The Canadian model kicks it into warp speed and gets this low out of here fast, with little snow accumulation. There is the huge problem for forecasters. Snow accumulation will depend on timing of the system. The Wednesday afternoon model update is now leaning toward a faster moving storm, which would mean less of a probability of snow accumulation for west Texas this weekend.

Ok, now the billion dollar question. Snow accumulation. This, too, has changed since just yesterday. Yesterday, models were forecasting anywhere from 8-16" of snow. As we get closer to the event Sunday, forecasts are getting more consistent and those numbers are starting to come down. Can they come back up? Yes. However, with the two American models coming more into agreement, it's looking likely that this will be a faster moving storm. The bottom photo is the Canadian model which is going to get a speeding ticket the way it's forecasting. It gets this thing out of here without even dropping an inch in Lubbock...or the rest of west Texas. The two American models have come into much better agreement with the timing and accumulation. They are calling for about 4" of snow from Sunday afternoon, through Monday at noon.

So what does this all mean? Will there be snow falling in Lubbock on Sunday? Yes. Will we see accumulating snow? It's looking very likely. How much snow will Lubbock get by noon Monday? Right now, I'd say 3" is a good bet. Other parts of the city and county could get around 4" as depicted in the forecast above. Both models show slightly higher amounts of about 5-6" in the eastern counties. The bottom line is the air will be dangerously cold this weekend, with wind chill values approaching -20°F. Snow will fall from Sunday afternoon, through noon Monday, with accumulations. That means road conditions will be in terrible shape during that time.

Stay home. Stay inside. Protect your pets, kids and the elderly and please stay warm. Celebrate Valentine's Day indoors, where it will be comfortable. Most people don't have to work Monday and schools are closed, as well. So just enjoy being at home, resting up and please be safe if you must go out this weekend.