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Breaking down this weeks upcoming snow storm and dangerously cold temperatures

With accumulating snow and dangerously low wind chills on the way heading into Thursday, you might be asking yourself what is the driving force behind this system? A low pressure system is slowly making its way down from the northwest back towards Mid-Missouri. This system will have the three major factors needed for snow showers to occur.

The first driving factor is moisture. Winds ahead of the approaching cold front will begin out of the southwest allowing moist air from the Gulf of Mexico to arrive by Thursday morning.

The second factor needed is a lifting mechanism. A lifting mechanism is needed in order to carry moisture into the upper atmosphere to allow it to condense and form snow. This system has an impressive cold front that will allow for upward motions to feed the moisture upward.

The final factor needed is cold enough air to freeze the moisture into snowfall dendrites (snowflakes). Whether you like it or not, strong winds residing from Canada will be diving behind this cold front cooling actual temperatures to just below zero.

After the snow has finished falling, high winds will become the next focus of this system. Strong wind gusts up into the mid-30s heading towards the weekend will leading to blowing snow reducing visibility and also falling wind chills. Wind Chills into Friday have the potential to reach below -30 degrees making for dangerous conditions. Although the actual temperatures will be well below the average overnight low of 25 degrees, this will be well off the long standing record of -20 degrees set back in 1989.

With wind chills reaching into below -30 degrees, the amount of time it takes for frostbite to settle in diminishes greatly. Frostbite can occur between 10-20 minutes with exposure to your skin with these low wind chills.

As we approach Christmas, the thought of a white Christmas might be lingering in your mind. Typically since 1991, there has been a 22% chance of seeing a white Christmas in Columbia Missouri. This Thursday's snowfall will look to stay around into Christmas as temperatures remain well below average leading for a great backdrop. This would be the 28th recorded white Christmas (snowfall greater than 1") recorded if this forecast holds true.

Article Topic Follows: Weather
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Chance Gotsch

Chance Gotsch grew up just south of St. Louis and moved to Columbia to attend the University of Missouri to pursue a degree in Atmospheric Sciences.

His interest in weather begin as a child when he used to be afraid of storms. Years later, he purchased a weather forecasting book and weather station at his elementary Scholastic Book Fair. After reading into the hows and whys of atmospheric science, he quickly became interested and gained his new passion.

Chance joined the ABC17 Stormtrack Weather Team in February of 2021. He is currently the weekday Noon Meteorologist.

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