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University of Missouri-Columbia: "The climatology of the snow-to-liquid ratios for moderate and heavy snowfalls in southwest Missouri"

Final Report



This project examined the climatological frequency of snowfalls in Southwest Missouri (SWMO), and then subdivided these events by their liquid to snowfall (LS) ratios. This was accomplished by first demonstrating that the Springfield, MO (SGF) Weather Service Forecast Office (WFO) snowfall climatology is representative of the SWMO region. This step had to be taken since SGF produced the only reliable liquid water equivalent information in SWMO.

We then classified each SGF snowfall event using their synoptic characteristics. These were then categorized using the LS ratio in order to determine whether or not certain types of snowfall events were associated with higher or lower LS ratios. It was found that the SWMO snowfalls could be classified using the same four flow regime characteristics found for NWMO snowfalls. Also, there is evidence that snowfall events associated with "northwesterly" flow regimes were associated with higher LS ratios, while lower LS ratios accompanied "deepening" systems. There is work to be done yet, as 10 case studies have been identified in order to examine the relevant atmospheric dynamics. Each task was carried out cooperatively by the academic and forecaster team.


The Springfield, MO (SGF) Weather Service Forecast Office served as a source of data, data gathering, and data analysis for this project. Surface observations over a 50 year period were analyzed to determine LS ratios for all snowfall events of 3 inches and greater. Upper level and surface data were analyzed for each snowfall case and classified into 4 major synoptic system types. Storm analysis also included the character of the surface and upper level features (deepening, weakening, steady state).

Much of the analysis was accomplished as a joint effort between the University staff and SGF. The work was greatly dependent on what data was available to each institution. Data after 1960 was available to SGF while data prior to 1960 was analyzed by the staff at the University of Missouri.
Case studies have been identified by both the academic and forecaster teams and we will narrow them down to a few cases that best represent each synoptic type.


Exchanges between the two partners were accomplished four times over the course of the project duration (one year). Each partner visited the other's office one time, and met halfway twice. An undergraduate student participated in the project at the University. The forecaster's team included a member of the weather staff at KY TV 3 in Springfield, MO. The results were presented at the 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society in Orlando, FL. These results will continue to be presented at relevant national meetings. The results will also be presented locally (e.g. 20 April at the 38th Annual Missouri Academy of Sciences meeting in Springfield, MO). The academic and forecaster teams will prepare a manuscript for submission to Weather and Forecasting during the summer of 2002.


This was a learning experience from the WFO SGF perspective. The University of Missouri staff took the lead in data analysis and manuscript preparation and presentation. This was done for several reasons, including the superior skills and experience of the University Staff in this arena and time and travel budget constraints at the WFO. All in all, this project has helped to strengthen the relationship between the University of Missouri Meteorology Department and SGF. There are already additional collaborative projects planned.

A winter weather seminar is planned at the SGF WFO in the Fall of 2002 where results from this project will be presented.

Citations for all currently published results (does not include planned submissions).

Lupo, A.R., D. Albert, R. Hearst, C. Allmeyer, and P.S. Market, 2002: The Interannual variability of snowfall events and snowfall-to-liquid water amounts in Southwest Missouri. Proceedings of the 13th Symposium on Global Change and Climate Variations, 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society, Orlando, FL, 14 - 18 January, 2002.

Lupo, A.R., D. Albert, R. Hearst, C. Allmeyer, and P.S. Market, 2002: The Interannual variability of snowfall events and snowfall-to-liquid water amounts in Southwest Missouri. Transactions of the Missouri Academy of Sciences, 36, in press. April 19-20, Springfield, MO

Planned Publication:
A manuscript will be submitted to Weather and Forecasting this summer.

4.1 Benefits to the University

The collaboration between the SGF WFO was beneficial to the University of Missouri in that strong ties between each institution have been developed where previously there was little if any contact between each team. The University benefited in that a better appreciation of the difficulties in forecasting snowfall amounts in SWMO was gained. A better understanding of the climatological, synoptic, and dynamic character of these events is being gained. The work will lead to better snowfall amount forecasts in SWMO.

One benefit that was gained outside the scope of the project is the agreement of the SGF WFO to participate in taking an MU undergraduate student during the summer as an intern at the SGF WFO. This will expose more students to careers in the NWS. Another benefit gained was that the undergraduate student who participated in this project on the academic team learned that research is a part of an NWS career.

Few problems were experienced during the course of this work. The forecaster team was responsive to all requests from the university side and participated fully in each task. The only prohibitive factor in more contact between the two teams was distance. In our 6 month report, it was stated that the project got off to a slow start due to distance and university workloads (which were, and continue to be heavy, but unrelated to this project). The pace of the research picked up, and most tasks have been accomplished. The academic and the forecaster team continue to work on the last objective.

4.2 Benefits to the NWS office

The only problems encountered have all ready been outlined in the previous section. Distance between the WFO and the University of Missouri was a barrier at times, but overall it only a minor hindrance. The main problem was finding enough time in the operational environment to dedicate to the project. Much of the work was accomplished during the quiet weather of the late Summer. It was also difficult to fully involve the KY3-TV meteorologist in this project. As principal investigator at the WFO, I must take responsibility for this shortcoming.