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Breaking down Thursday mornings snowfall

Waking up early Thursday morning, some residents of Central Missouri woke up to a white landscape capped in snowfall. Other areas to the north woke up to a wet and slushy landscape. Why was there such contrasting conditions in such close proximity? The main reasoning derives from the temperatures and and the amount of vertical velocity.

A low pressures system just to the east over Illinois this morning pulled moisture from the Gulf of Mexico back towards the center of low. The moisture then is moved in a counter clockwise manner back towards Central Missouri fueling one of the main ingredients for winter precipitation to make landfall.

Areas extending from Osage Beach back to the northwest in a line towards Callaway county passing through Jefferson City saw accumulating snowfall anywhere from 2"-4" while areas just a few short miles away from this line saw a dusting or just rainfall. At 5 AM, most of Central Missouri was under rain showers.

By 6 AM a abrupt shift in atmospheric temperatures shifted this rainfall towards more of a heavy snowfall resulting in poor visibility across many cities.

The area in red depicts heavy snowfall rates at 7 Am this morning placing a target on areas that saw increased snowfall totals. The reasoning for this localized heavy snow lies in the science if vertical velocities. Vertical velocity is the measure of wind speeds going from the earth's surface back towards the atmosphere creating a lift for precipitation. This means that snowfall become almost suspended in the atmosphere and continuously gets pushed back up allowing for snow dendrites (flakes) to continue to grow in size and density. Eventually the snow dendrites become too heavy and fall from the clouds in heavier bands.

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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