After many days talking about this storm we are finally here. The winter storm warning will go into effect at 3pm this afternoon and will continue through noon tomorrow. Snow totals of 6”-9” are expected in central Iowa with the higher amounts in Southwest Iowa where 8”-12” will be expected. Besides the threat for heavy snowfall, winds will start to pick up throughout the day today causing visibilities below a quarter mile. This will cause near blizzard conditions but it does not meet the criteria for a blizzard warning.
The criteria for a blizzard warning is: Falling and/or blowing snow frequently reducing visibilities to a quarter mile or less and sustained winds or frequent gusts of 35mph or greater lasting for at least three hours. The National Weather Service is forecasting sustained winds from 15-25mph with gusts up to 30mph. Since the winds are not sustained or frequently gusting over 35mph, this does not meet the criteria of a blizzard warning.
However, this doesn’t mean that there won’t be times where we have visibilities drop to a quarter mile. We are expecting heavier bands of snow to move through this evening, and when they do move through, this is the period where winds will gust to near 30mph and make for very hazardous if not near impossible travel conditions. The worst of this will occur from the time of the evening rush hour into the early nighttime hours, from about 5pm to around midnight tonight.
Prior to the heaviest bands moving through, we can expect light snow to move in around 2pm to 4pm. After the snow starts, it won’t take long for it to become heavy. The snow will continue after midnight into mid day Friday, but it won’t be near as heavy. Light snow will diminish off slowly between 9am and 10am, and that is when conditions will slowly improve. Until we get through tonight and tomorrow, travel will be very difficult.
Stay tuned for further updates on this winter storm set to hit the state of Iowa. Be sure to follow our live stream as we will provide updates throughout the afternoon.