Thursday, January 12, 2012
As the temperatures plummeted throughout the Ozarks last night (from a clement high of low 40s down to the teens with blustery North winds), you also probably tuned in to Springfield NOAA to watch the long band of baby blue snow march eastward, offering us the first appreciable snow event of winter.
Folks around Springfield may have noticed on their local NOAA radar a pale khaki blanket preceding the snow front, a sheet of sheer tan coloration covering the entire Springfield Plateau. I've written before of the plateau's impact on weather conditions around Springfield, how they tend to have devastating ice storms when the low, undulating hills below are spared. Driving down I-44, one wouldn't imagine that an agricultural field outside of Springfield is approximately 40 ft. shy of being the highest point in Missouri. Thankfully, the scenic, rugged, romantic Taum Sauk Mountain remains the highest point in Missouri, rising up to 1,772 ft. in the undeveloped St. Francois Mountains. But the broad flat plain of the Springfield Plateau is only a few feet short of that, and it impacts weather there. (So, really, if some guy wanted to bulldoze a pile of dirt into a huge heap, why, THAT could be the highest point in Missouri! Scenic! Let's go backpacking!)
Anyway, last night's snow band included a weather event that seldom occurs but on uplifts like the plateau; as the front moved eastward, lateral bands of snow shot out across the plateau ahead of the front (the khaki blanket). On the radar it looked like an outflow boundary of some sort, a bowing wind of snow, but it wasn't that, it was what I believe is called a streamer. Regardless, the uplift of the Springfield Plateau influences local weather patterns just as large bodies of water do with such impacts as lake effect snow. If you ever have an opportunity to hear one of the fine forecasters from Springfield NOAA speak about weather, I urge you to attend. Springfield weather, dictated by its very landform, is truly fascinating.
Posted by Allison Vaughn at 6:59 PM