Commonwealth Journal

November 25, 2013

Pulaski gearing up for white Thanksgiving

by Chris Harris
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset — Dreaming of a white Christmas? Sure. But dreaming of a white Thanksgiving?

That’s no jive, turkey.

Snow is on the way for the holiday, or at least the days leading up to it. According to the National Weather Service Office in Jackson, Ky., Pulaski County is looking at a likely inch of snow by early Wednesday.

That, however, is a forecast in a state of flux.

“In this type of scenario, everything hinges around temperate and timing,” said John Jacobson, senior meteorologist in the Jackson office. “The way these things are ... make forecasts that make you lose your hair. Just a little one way or the other makes a big difference.”

The sort of “perilous forecasts” Jacobson speaks of has to do with a predicted temperature sitting right on 32 degrees Monday night going into Tuesday.

A slight shift up or down could result in absolutely no snow accumulation ... or in three to four inches instead of a meager one.

“(Monday night), what we have is a large low pressure system moving out of the Gulf of Mexico and moving east to the south of us,” he said. “... What we have is, we’ve got that low moving along the southern track and a short wave moving along the northern track, approaching the area from the northwest.”

Heading into Tuesday morning, Jacobson was expecting slight snow with a brief period of sleet. At about 4 a.m. to 6 a.m., that would change to rain and snow, and then rain all day Tuesday into the night.

As the cold air starts moving in, that rain will change to snow late Tuesday. The temperatures on the ground will likely allow for an inch to accumulate, said Jacobson, “but just a little change in the temperature could make a big difference either way.”

One plus: Jacobson isn’t expecting slick road conditions.

“If this system were occurring in late December or January, we’d probably have freezing rain in the forecast because the ground would be frozen and not have heat built up in it,” he said. “Right now, the ground still has some warmth at it.

“Thirty-two degrees is the temperature at six feet above the ground,” he added. “Freezing rain is 32 degrees at the surface. ... (Road temperature measures) are telling me the road will stay warm enough to melt anything.”

If there’s a problem, it could be in “valleys that are pretty sharp,” said Jacobson.

“If you get cold air trapped in valleys, you can get isolated instances of freezing rain,” he said. “It’s another thing within the realm of possibility. We’ll know more as time goes on.

“If some area is shaded, could it see a patch of ice? Yeah,” he added.

The high on Tuesday is expected to be about 38 degrees, with the low at 32 degrees. Wednesday will be colder — 30 as the high, 28 as the low.

But what about on Thanksgiving? Here in southeastern Kentucky, snow has not been the norm on Turkey Day.

However, the holiday will be right behind the system coming through, and it will be bitter cold — the low on Thanksgiving morning is expected to be 19 degrees, with highs in the mid-30s. That could mean that some of the snowfall will stick around for the food, family, and football.

“Areas that do get snow might have their first white Thanksgiving,” said Jacobson. “Records here (in Jackson) indicate no more than a tenth of an inch of snow reported on Thanksgiving.

“Historically, if there’s an inch that falls that could stick around on grass, it could be the first white Thanksgiving we’ve had on 30 years of record in Jackson,” he added.

Indeed, the snowiest Thanksgiving in that time has been .1 inch in 2004 (and the coldest in 1984 at 20 degrees). Only three Thanksgivings since 1981 have measured snowfall