Another Snow Storm this year?

Esteban Serrano, Lead Editor

With the hard freeze expected tonight into the early morning hours, and the likeliness of it sticking around the next few days, many are panicking. School districts in and around San Antonio, including Central, have shut down until Friday, if not later. Roads are expected to be slippery, and furthermore, some are worried with flashbacks from 2021’s deadly winter storm. Questions have been lingering around the city and people are asking if it will happen again… could we potentially see snow, and what else could we expect from it?

KSAT 12 Meteorologist Sarah Spivey spoke with The Pep exclusively and shares what she and the weather team across the street from Central are monitoring with this current winter storm and the rest of the winter months.

“I’d say it was about a once-in-a-thirty year event,” is how Spivey describes last year’s deadly winter storm that managed to cover most if not all of Texas, especially San Antonio. Power supply-demand, controversy about ERCOT’s power grid, and houses without running water are just some of many memories people in South Texas will take with them into future years. “We actually had a foot of snow in the Eighties (1980s), in San Antonio as well,” Spivey says, “…so the thing that made this winter storm in February last year so bad was the fact that the power went out. Since the Eighties, we’ve had a lot more people move to Texas, we’ve had a lot more people use our power grid, the power grid was way stressed beyond what it even was back in the Eighties… So it’s not a once-in-a-lifetime event, and it’s definitely probably not the new normal… probably in another thirty years we’ll have something similar to what we saw in 2021.”

One might be wondering, “But wait, San Antonio experienced snow in late 2017.”¬† She says, “We had way more snow in 2021 than we had in 2017. Much colder temperatures, we got down to nine degrees at one point in San Antonio, and it’s the coldest we’ve been since the Eighties.” Spivey says the exact cause of last year’s storm was an arctic landmass while an upper-pressure system brought heavy snow.

“Oftentimes we’ll get one or the other,” she says. “The bulk that we will get (tomorrow) will not be what we had last year.”

The Farmer’s Almanac has been another choice of source and topic when it comes to “predicting” winter storms. Spivey is not a fan of the book herself. In fact, she wrote a research article on KSAT.com that explains its role in the 2021 winter storm. The article states that the book’s information is “vague,” and she elaborates. “The Farmer’s Almanac is EXTREMELY unreliable.” She continues, “It’s a horoscope for weather, where they put out these vague statements and then people interpret them as true or false- it’s called confirmation bias.” In other words, it’s similar to superstition. She describes it as a “coin toss” or “fifty-fifty chance” that whatever the almanac says, will actually happen. “That’s something to keep in mind too, as in meteorologists are correct eighty to ninety percent of the time.” Even with that, she explains how difficult it is to accurately predict these climate patterns, and the time span they must use in order to project any weather before it happens. “It’s actually impossible for us to forecast months out at a time- science just doesn’t allow for that yet. We can accurately forecast out about five to seven days, but even past five days, it’s a little iffy,” she says.

Given there was such a warmer Christmas and really, the month of December this past year, some may wonder why the climate wasn’t as cool. So what about the topic of climate change? How does that, if any, play a factor in our weather patterns?- Spivey says without hesitation, “The climate is changing.” She says that while politics may skew everyone’s view about it, many scientific studies have been done to prove that it is true. “In general, global temperatures are getting warmer. In fact, they’ve gotten warmer since the Eighteen-hundreds, Nineteen-hundreds by about two degrees Celcius. The way I like to call it more so than global warming is like “global weirding.” She continues, “There are weird things that are starting to happen, and it’s not necessarily that we’ll have very warm weather… take for example the winter storm that happened last year. That was extremely cold weather… if the whole globe is warming, then the polar vortex will weaken more every now and then. We could actually have scenarios where extreme cold is caused by “global weirding.”

Spivey stresses while the wintry mix is a part of the forecast, she is almost certain this will not be a repeat of 2021. “It’s just some light icing on bridges and overpasses. Every year in San Antonio, we get a little light ice event. It’s just that, now people are a little shocked because of what happened last year. So any chance of snow or sleet or freezing rain is going to be scary for many folks now.”

So for the wintry mix the next couple of days, Spivey stresses to take caution on bridges and bypasses, but not to stress about the severity of the weather. She also says you can follow their coverage between now and the end of winter in late March on their KSAT Weather Authority App. Below are resources to her Farmer’s Almanac review, to get the full idea of her research.

https://www.ksat.com/weather/2021/08/31/did-the-farmers-almanac-really-predict-the-february-2021-winter-storm/#/questions

https://www.ksat.com/weather/