MURRAY — Monday’s winter storm left Murray and Calloway County with anywhere between 5 and 7 inches of snow.
Ordinarily, that is enough to satisfy any snow enthusiast south of the Upper Midwest. However, with the forecast from the National Weather Service calling for somewhere between 6 and 12 inches, snow fans may be expressing some disappointment that the higher amounts did not materialize.
Justin Holland of Murray, an official government observer for the National Weather Service Office in Paducah, said four atmospheric factors, all of which were surprises, combined to keep the snow totals down in the southern part of the Purchase Region.
“The first thing was you may noticed that (starting at about 10 a.m. Monday) we began with sleet and that will always hold your snow totals down. We had a small pocket of warm air that came in just as that wave arrived,” said Holland, who said that the sleet amounted to about a quarter-inch. “Next was the area of the heaviest snow passed about 50 miles to our west and northwest. Now, the forecasters were right in one regard. There were heavier amounts. You look at Paducah and southern Illinois and some of Missouri, they got between 6 and 10 inches. It was just that area was being predicted to swing farther on to the south.
“The third factor was that when the snow did start, the flakes were really small, as opposed to really large flakes that you think of in the heavier snow systems. Then, finally, the fourth factor came in during the afternoon and that was a pocket of dry air that started in Tennessee and moved northward to here. None of these things was expected and you really can’t predict where these things are going to occur before the storm arrives.”
By 3:30 p.m., Holland said he had measured about 3 1/2 inches of snow in the city. He said the highest amounts were in the southeast part of the county toward the New Concord area, where he said reports of as many as 5 inches were common.
Then, a burst that began at about 4:30 p.m. pulled yet another surprise. Holland said some wrap-around moisture behind the main system had enough energy to dump another 2 or 3 inches on most places.
“That is still a lot of snow, though,” he said. “I’ve also been telling some people (Monday) that it probably is a blessing that this system did what it did. With these amounts, people can still get out who really need to be able to get out. It’s not like the snow is so deep that you can’t go anywhere. Plus, with these amounts, you’re not going to be hearing of people getting stranded left and right on the roads.”
Holland also said the Murray area will be getting another break from Old Man Winter when it comes to the Arctic chill that has gripping the area since this past weekend. He said forecasts call for clouds tonight, as well as Wednesday night, meaning overnight lows, while still brutally cold in the single digits, will stay well above the zero line.
“With the snow cover, ordinarily, that would drop overnight lows even lower,” he said. “Now, it’s still going to be awfully cold and you’re still going to need to drip your faucets and keep those cabinets open at night. The clouds, though, are going to keep us a bit warmer because they’re going to trap the cold air.
“If this had been a system that left us with clear skies at night, then you’d be seeing those temperatures really fall.”
Holland said another winter system will arrive Wednesday night into Thursday. Right now, he said it is too early to make any definitive calls as to how much precipitation could come, as well as what form it will take. He said the latest models indicate that snow, sleet and freezing rain are all possible.