Challenges of winter weather forecasting

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JACKSON, Ky. (WYMT) - Whether it's freezing rain, snow or sleet, winter weather forecasting can be a challenge.

"So winter weather is very complex," said Jane Marie Wix a Meteorologist at the National Weather Service.

And with the variety of precipitation we see in the mountains, it can be very difficult to forecast.

"Temperatures are below freezing but your air aloft is above freezing you're probably warranting a freezing rain type of situation. If there is a little bit of melting and snow aloft but there's melting right about the surface you can get some sleet so we kind of have to account for all of these variables," said Wix.

Depending on the different variables the National Weather Service then determines if a watch, advisory, or warning is warranted.

"A quarter inch of ice or greater, 4 inches of snow in 12 hours or 6 inches of snow in 24 hours or greater either one of those criteria met or half an inch of sleet accumulation. So if we're becoming more and more confident usually in the day time frame maybe two days out we issue a winter storm warning," said Jonathan Guseman the Warning Coordination Meteorologist at National Weather Service.

Guseman also said, "if it is an advisory we are expecting impacts we're just not looking at that four inches of snow or a quarter inch of ice in that 12 hour or so time frame."

And when you mix the difficult forecast and specific criteria, the job can get challenging.

"Winter weather is the hardest thing you almost get any meteorologist to tell you that they have to forecast and finetune," said Guseman.

But no matter the challenge the National Weather Service and WYMT Weather Team are prepared to keep you ahead of the threat.

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