A rare spring snowstorm could be in Joplin’s future.
Though the track of Thursday’s storm is still somewhat uncertain, the region could get anywhere from 2 to 6 inches of snow, which should provide further relief from the drought.
“Joplin needs to pay attention to this,’’ said Doug Cramer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service forecast office in Springfield.
“You are so close to the rain-snow line. We’re putting Joplin in the snow for now,” he said. “But places like McDonald County and Cassville might not see any snow.
“We are expecting some heavy snow, a band of 6 inches and greater, north of Joplin near Nevada and Fort Scott, Kan.’’
The storm will be produced by what Cramer described as “a very rare late March weather pattern.’’ Unusually cold air in the Northern Plains and southern Canada will shift southward into the Ozarks. Spring-like moisture over the Gulf of Mexico will transport northward into the Ozarks.
“The collision of these two air masses will trigger this band of heavy snow across the region,’’ said Cramer. “We feel certain that someone will get some snow.’’
The expected moisture and the moisture the area has received in the last few weeks have moderated the drought.
“The drought is improving,’’ Cramer said. “The weather pattern is much different than last March. We’ve been able to get some precipitation. But, we’re still in a drought. We need more moisture.’’
So far this year, Joplin has received 6.14 inches of precipitation in all forms. Normal for the same period is 6.02 inches. At this time last year, the area had only received 3.86 inches of moisture since the beginning of the year.
In the last six weeks, the drought has shifted from severe to moderate in Southwest Missouri, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
The outlook through May 31, according to the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center, shows the drought in Southwest Missouri as continuing, but with some improvement. The drought in virtually all of Kansas and Oklahoma will persist and possibly intensify.
The outlook for this spring, which starts on Wednesday, calls for above normal temperatures and near normal precipitation for Southwest Missouri through the end of May, according to the Climate Prediction Center.