Why do ice storms happen so much in the Four States?

A motorist is pushed through snow by a man, Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022 in Nashville, Tenn. A winter storm blanketed parts of the South with quick-falling snow, freezing rain and sleet Thursday, tying up some roads in Tennessee as the system tracked a path through Appalachia toward the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. (George Walker IV /The Tennessean via AP)

(KSNF/KODE) — The ice storm is one of the nastier winter weather events that occur with unfortunate frequency in the Four States. These storm systems are associated with extended periods of well below normal temperatures that plague the Plains states, following the arrival of Arctic outbreaks. The stage is set for an Arctic outbreak, when the high speed, upper level winds that stream from west to east across the Northern Hemisphere in the mid latitudes, basically shift to a more, north to south configuration. When this happens, temperatures can become extremely cold because air is not streaming into the middle of the nation from a mild source region, such as the Pacific Ocean; but rather the frigid, north pole.

The arctic cold front is the most feared during the winter season because these fronts can produce well below normal temperatures. The Four States last suffered the impacts of such an outbreak in mid-February 2021, when temperatures never warmed above freezing for almost two weeks.  And, at the height of that brutal cold wave, Joplin’s high temperature struggled to reach 1°F, while the next morning’s low dropped to -15°F, on February 16th. These, ridiculously cold air masses are so dense, they often defy the thermodynamic schemes utilized in numerical weather modeling to such a degree, that the models have difficulty correctly predicting the coldest parts of an outbreak.

Once the cold air is in place, that’s when an area of low pressure strengthens over central Texas and begins pulling increasingly warm and moist air from the Gulf of Mexico, on top of the very shallow, cold air already in place across Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri. Temperatures in this warm layer, or warm nose, as meteorologists like to define it, can be as warm as 50°F; which is well above what is necessary to melt snowflakes falling into this layer, from much colder air above the warm nose.

When these relatively warm, rain drops fall into that shallow, sub-freezing air mass hugging the ground, they immediately freeze in contact with elevated surfaces such as tree branches and power lines; even if temperatures on these surfaces are just a degree below 32°F. And, it only takes 0.25” of ice accumulation to start bringing down tree limbs and power lines. When accumulation increases to approximately 0.50” it can add as much as 500 pounds of weight to a one-thousand foot span of power line. And, another thing to consider is windspeed.  If windspeed is just a little above 10 mph during an ice storm event, the impact will be catastrophic storm damage; resulting in widespread power outages due to the added force of the wind on tree branches and power lines.

The reason ice storms occur with unfortunate frequency in the Four States, is not only due to the region’s proximity to the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, but also that large mass of high terrain in the western U.S. we call the Rocky Mountains. This continental divide helps to contain those chilly polar and arctic air masses as they surge south through the Plains states. Additionally, this lengthy expanse of higher terrain “protects” these frigid, dense air molecules from modification due to that warmer air streaming across California from the Pacific Ocean. With this wall of protection, those extremely cold Arctic intrusions into the center of the nation can hang around just a little while longer while they await the arrival of the next “ice storm generating”, low pressure system.

Ice storms are scary things, they can create dangerous power outages for extended periods during the coldest parts of winter, and bring every form of transportation to a standstill. You may be aware that our weather forecast includes the arrival of our first arctic cold this Thursday night; with high temperatures struggling to reach the freezing mark on Friday. The good news for Four States residents is that there won’t be any ice storms utilizing this cold air mass for wintery mayhem this weekend. In fact, it will be much warmer next week for our Thanksgiving holiday!

Heat impact on the Four States

KSNF/KODE — Elevated temperatures throughout the United States and especially across the Midwest have brought on burn bans in multiple local counties. Additionally, dry vegetation and a lack of rain have only complicated simple fires and exhausted local fire departments with their frequency.

We’ve put together a comprehensive article that lists local burn bans, and other stories that serve as precautionary warnings on the danger and speed fires have in the current climate.

Missouri Drought MonitorKansas Drought MonitorOklahoma Drought Monitor

Active Burn Bans in the Four States

Recent fires caused and/or amplified by weather conditions

Incoming storms bring flooding concerns Wednesday and Thursday

JOPLIN, Mo. (KSNF) – Anywhere from 1-4 inches is possible with incoming storms on Wednesday and Thursday.

Showers and storms are expected as early as late Wednesday morning, with a very small chance for severe storms in northeast Oklahoma under a SLIGHT risk.

The bulk of the severe weather will be in central Oklahoma down to northern Texas.

Severe storms are expected Thursday afternoon as well, but mainly to the cities east of us like Branson, Rolla, and West Plains.

Those places are under an ENHANCED RISK, will a swath of the Four State Region in southwest Missouri and southeast Kansas is under a SLIGHT risk.

You can keep track of all the weather on our Interactive Radar.

Severe storms moving through Oklahoma and Kansas Monday night

JOPLIN, Mo. (KSNF) – Severe storms are trucking eastward through Oklahoma and Kansas as of 7:00pm Monday.

As the storms move east, they will start to lose a little steam. That means wind is our main threat in the Four State region.

Hail is a secondary threat, and it could be damaging.

As the storms congeal into a line segment, isolated tornadoes still can’t be ruled out.

These are usually quick, spin-up tornadoes on the edge of the line of storms.

We have received quite a bit of rainfall today, as well. A Flood Watch will be posted until Tuesday morning, as creeks and rivers may rise from 1-2 inches of additional rainfall.

We’re also paying attention to a second severe weather event later this week Wednesday night into Thursday morning.

We’re keeping track of it all on our Interactive Radar.

Storms and winter weather on tap for the next 24 hours in the Four States

JOPLIN, Mo. (KSNF) – Wednesday night will bring storms with winter returning on Thursday.

A broad look at the Freeman Health First Alert Doppler radar shows all of the advisories, watches, and warnings, with several of them overlapping.

So, let’s break down each one for you.


A WIND ADVISORY is in effect for the counties you see in blue below until 6:00pm Wednesday.

Winds are sustained around 25 miles per hour and gusting up to nearly 50 miles per hour in many spots.

The Joplin Regional Airport recorded a wind gust of 47 miles per hour between 1:00pm and 2:00pm.


Storms are expected to form late tonight and move from west to east during the overnight hours.

There is a potential for heavy rainfall so an AREAL FLOOD WATCH has been issued for southwest Missouri counties in green.

Some storms could be low-end severe with wind and hail as the main threats, although the majority of severe weather will be south of our viewing area.


As the front moves across the area, rain will switch to a wintry mix and then full snow as the day goes on.

  • Winter Storm Warning in Pink – 3:00am – 9:00pm THURSDAY
  • Winter Weather Advisory in Purple – 9:00am – 9:00pm THURSDAY

There is a chance for a glaze of ice with this winter storm as it moves through.

Amounts are below and are approximate. Travel could be impacted with this system.

Snow accumulation looks to be a trace to 2 inches, possible. Higher amounts will be towards Nevada, MO and Fort Scott, KS, as well as some of our southeast Kansas counties like Labette, Montgomery, Woodson, Wilson, and Neosho counties.

We highly recommend downloading our mobile app for both Apple and Google Play so that you can stay up to date with the latest information.

Gusty winds, storms, and wintry weather all expected with the next weather system Wednesday/Thursday

JOPLIN, Mo. (KSNF) – We still anticipate a “mixed bag” of weather as our next weather system approaches from the west.


A Red Flag Warning is in effect until 7pm for much of southwest Missouri, southeast Kansas, and northeast Oklahoma.

Humidity values are below 30% and winds are gusting well over 25 miles per hour.


Storms are expected to form Wednesday afternoon and evening. As of Tuesday afternoon, the Storm Prediction Center has kept our region mainly in a MARGINAL RISK of severe storms.

A slightly higher risk of severe storms (SLIGHT RISK) is in the yellow to our southwest.

Because winds will gust to nearly 40 miles per hour BEFORE the storms, a WIND ADVISORY is in effect until 3pm on Wednesday.

Winds could be damaging even without storms in the area.

Some spotty showers may form as early 3pm on Wednesday, but are more organized structure of storms is expected late Wednesday night.


Then, through the overnight hours, a line segment of storms forms and moves through in the early morning hours of Thursday. Temperatures still will not drop far enough, so we are anticipating rain and storms for that line that moves through at that time.

Main risks would be:

  • Damaging wind gusts
  • Damaging hail

Due to an excessive amount of rainfall expected, we have an Areal Flood Watch in effect for our southwest Missouri counties.


As the storm system moves from west to east, temperatures drop off and snowfall is then expected Thursday through the daytime hours.

The system finally exits our region by Thursday night.

As of Tuesday afternoon, we are NOT under any sort of winter storm watches or warnings, though.

It is unclear just how impactful the wintry weather will be, but if we get a lot of snowfall, we could see a trace to 2 inches in our area.

A glaze of ice is also possible with the incoming system.


Each model run, with each hour, continues to show bobbles in the path of the storm and differences in just how it will affect our region.

We highly recommend downloading our mobile app for both Apple and Google Play so that you can stay up to date with the latest information.

UPGRADED: WINTER STORM WARNING now in effect for the Four States

(KSNF/KODE) – A Winter Storm Warning has been issued for southwest Missouri and southeast Kansas.

National Weather Service Springfield, MO
  • Midnight Tuesday to midnight Thursday
  • Snow and sleet accumulations between 4 – 11 inches
  • Freezing rain accumulations around 1/4 inch


  • Tuesday afternoon: RAIN
  • Tuesday overnight to Wednesday: FREEZING RAIN
  • Wednesday Night: SNOW
  • Thursday: SNOW

Northeast Oklahoma and northwest Arkansas remain under a WINTER STORM WATCH as of 8:30am Tuesday morning.

We encourage residents to keep a close eye on the forecast and remain calm as we continue to iron out this forecast.

Our mobile app for both iPhone and Android is a great resource to help you stay up to date with the latest forecast. Download it in your respective app store.

Nice Sunday and Monday, potential for winter storm midweek

Expect mostly clear skies tonight, with lows in the mid to upper-20s. A weak cold front will progress through the area, but it will come through dry. A few isolated wind gusts to 25 mph are possible tonight.

Temperatures won’t be all that much cooler behind the front–just five degrees or so for Sunday, when we’ll be looking at mostly sunny conditions and highs in the low to mid-50s.

The warmest day of the week looks to be Monday, with highs climbing into the lower-60s, which is about 15 degrees above normal for late January.

A strong cold front will approach the area Tuesday. With better Gulf moisture still to our south and temperatures still in the mid-50s, we’re just expecting light rain showers during the day Tuesday.

The possibility exists for precipitation to mix with snow, sleet and freezing rain Tuesday night. For Wednesday into Wednesday night, it looks like precipitation will mostly fall in the form of snow, but rain, freezing rain and sleet mixed in remains a possibility. It remains to be seen exactly which parts of the area see which type of precipitation and how heavy it will be. At this time, the highest likelihood for most of the winter impacts (whether it be ice or snow) appears to be for locations from I-44 northward, but this is very much subject to change. Light snow will end during the day Thursday.

One thing that is for sure is temperatures will start to cool down significantly. Highs for Wednesday and Thursday will be in the mid to upper-20s, with Friday morning lows potentially dropping below zero. Winds chills could be as cold as 10 below zero from Wednesday night through Saturday morning. Lows will still be in the single digits Saturday morning, before we warm up into the mid-40s for next weekend’s highs.

Eyeing possible winter weather next week in the Four States

(KSNF/KODE) — There’s a growing potential for winter weather to impact the Four State Region next week.

Meteorologists are eyeing late Tuesday into early Thursday next week for the storm system to move through the Joplin – Pittsburg areas.

There’s a lot still unknown, though.

  • Exact timing
  • Exact track of the storm system
  • Precipitation type (models hint at a mix of rain, snow, and ice, potentially)
  • Precipitation amounts
One possible model run for next week – this forecast WILL change.

The jet stream in the upper levels of the atmosphere is expected to bring us a colder air mass from the north, and confidence is growing more and more that moisture from the Gulf of Mexico will also be present with this next storm system.

But, again, a lot of questions remain with this system.

We encourage residents to keep a close eye on the changing forecast, have back-up plans for any activities next week during this time frame just in case, and remain calm as we continue to iron out this forecast.

Our mobile app for both iPhone and Android is a great resource to help you stay up to date with the latest forecast. Download it in your respective app store.

Still cool through Friday; Much warmer this weekend

Thursday will see high temperatures in the middle 40s with partly to mostly cloudy skies. Clouds will start to clear in the afternoon before we see plenty of sunshine into Friday and the weekend. We’ll be slightly cooler tomorrow before temperatures jump into the middle 50s this weekend. The last day of January will see a high of 60 before we enter into a more active weather pattern as we enter into February. This will lead to cooler conditions and many chances of rain and snow into next week. We’ll keep you updated on locations, timings and totals as we get closer.