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Chief Meteorologist Bill Meck releases first snowfall projections for the weekend

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Posted at 4:45 PM, Jan 14, 2022

(LEX 18) — We continue to track what looks to be a widespread impactful storm this MLK weekend. The timing overall has continued to slow. There are more questions regarding precipitation type, especially across the south and southeast. But overall, the confidence continues to grow that another significant winter storm is about to arrive in Kentucky.

Early in the week, we talked about the possibility that the whole storm could be a ‘cutter’. That meant a low coming up west of the mountains bringing some warm air with it. As we’re getting closer, that does now look like it’ll be part of our equation. The warmth is somewhat at the surface, but more importantly about a mile over some of our heads. For snow, the entire column needs to be below freezing. With an above freezing mid-layer, the precip type can change to sleet (if the layer is thin), freezing rain (if the layer is thicker and nearer the ground), or just a plain cold Kentucky rain if temperatures sneak into the mid-30s at the surface. This also can dramatically lower snow totals, but it leads to its own significant winter weather impacts.

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So here’s what it boils down to…there will be a sharp gradient between not much snow and another pretty good snow…similar to what happened last Thursday. Areas north and west of Lexington will be in a general 1 to 3-inch snow, and it should be all snow. Roughly south of the Bluegrass Parkway northeast along US Highway 68 (again roughly!) will be the begging of a 2 to 5-inch band. There will likely be sleet mixing in with this, especially as you go southeast within that band. If there’s less sleet, we’ll trend higher in that range…more sleet, less.

The best chances for the highest amounts of snow will be south and east of Lexington. What makes the numbers tricky is the greater chance of bringing in sleet and freezing rain. However, there should be an overall large enough liquid equivalent to overcome some of that for a 4 to 8-inch snow, but throw in a good chunk of wintry mix to make for a pretty good mess.

Finally, across the southeast, south of the Parkways we’ll call it a 4 to 8-inch band as well, but there’s a real wild card for significant icing to knock down the totals. There could also be a period of just plain cold rain doing the same. A lesser amount would not be a surprise if this storm is just a couple of degrees warmer than what we’re currently thinking and we end up with more rain or ice.

Can these numbers change? Absolutely yes. We’re still about 2 days out from really being impacted by this extremely complex system. Given the upcoming weekend, we issued these amounts a bit earlier than we normally would, but this will get you started.

What you’ll need to do Saturday is keep up to date on our latest forecasts as new data comes in and we’ll, of course, keep you updated on-air, online, and on socials.