February 14 2014 Snow Review

Review of February 14, 2014 Snow Event and Forecast

An area of low pressure brought several inches of snow to central Indiana on February 14. Some locations received over 5 inches of snow, including Indianapolis. The 5.5 inches of snow at Indianapolis set a new record snowfall for the date.

 24 hour snowfall ending 7:00 AM February 15. Click to enlarge.
(24 hour snowfall ending 7 AM Feb. 15. Click to enlarge.

The heaviest snowfall fell north of where it was forecast. This happened for a couple of reasons. First, the area of low pressure moved farther north than was predicted. The map below shows the forecast path of the low along with the actual path. Please note that all locations are approximate. Model guidance from the main American models used (NAM and GFS shown here) showed a forecast track from southern Missouri to southern Kentucky during the day. (Other models, but not all, were similar). The model runs shown here are from the 7 PM February 13 run, which is the run used in making the morning forecast of February 14. The forecast path shown here would put the heavier snow amounts across southern sections of central Indiana (white oval). However, the actual path of the low went into central Kentucky rather than southern Kentucky, allowing the heavier snow to fall across central sections of the area (blue oval, also see map above). As often is stated in NWS winter products, "A small change in the path of the system could bring significant changes to the snowfall amounts". This is what happened in this case.

Low pressure track.
Click to enlarge

In addition, strong smaller scale forcing created banding of the heavier snow, which lead to the higher snow amounts in some areas. The radar image below from about 1:00 PM shows the banding, with a band of heavy snow across the Indianapolis area.

 Radar Image
Click to enlarge

Once the trends became clear during the morning of February 14, NWS products were updated to include higher snow amounts to the north as well as the expansion of the winter weather advisory to cover most of central Indiana, before heavy snow began to fall.

A page showing snowfall reports received along with the snowfall map above is available on our archive page or at this link.

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