In recent days and hours we’ve seen little change in the current thinking on one aspect of this pending winter storm, the track. This storm system is expected to deliver its biggest punch to areas of western Iowa and Nebraska. That’s not to say the eastern half of Iowa and other parts of the Midwest are not out of the woods on this one, but we’ll get to that in a second.
First, the formality. A Winter Storm Watch (seen in blue to the right) is posted for much of Iowa, especially west of I-35 and areas of Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, even Arkansas. The storm is expected to swing through, bringing the center of the low close to or over western Iowa by Thursday. With cold air in place, this will all fall as snow over this region. As you can see in the graphic to the left, there is now a high confidence of significant snowfall over this area. The red circle highlights the area at greatest risk for 4”+ of snow.
I could have shown a probability graphic detailing the risk for higher snowfall totals, but I won’t. And here’s why. The headline of this storm system will not be the snow, but the wind. Anyone, ANYONE that receives a good shot of new snow will see difficult driving conditions in the face of strong wind gusts. Even areas of eastern Iowa, where 1”-3” of snow is more likely, could face challenges come Thursday.
One thing we’re still trying to pin down is the amount of available moisture and overall intensity of this storm system. I hope to see much of that come into view no later than tonight. With that in mind, areas in the red circle can expect 4” of snow, with higher amounts that, in isolated cases, could near the 12” mark. This will not be a heavy snow like the Blizzard of December, but instead a much more prolonged snowfall event that piles up over time.
With wraparound moisture and strong winds, we expect travel to be greatly impacted over several states, including much if not all of Iowa. Anyone with travel plans the latter half of this week needs to stay posted for any possible changes to the timing, track and intensity of this storm.