It’s almost here and that means area forecasters have to bite the bullet and make their near-final prediction before a storm system enters Iowa tonight. First, let’s break down all the watches, warnings and advisories now posted for Iowa. You can see all of them in the graphic to the left. Areas in red are where a Blizzard Warning is in effect. This includes a large portion of northern Iowa. Areas in Green are under a Blizzard Watch and will be closely monitored tonight and during the day tomorrow. Areas in Blue are under a Winter Weather Advisory. You’ll notice in north central Iowa many counties appear both blue and red. That’s because a Winter Weather Advisory is posted for tonight, then upgraded to a blizzard warning tomorrow.
The storm system will push into western Iowa later this evening. It’s expected the storm will start with mixed precipitation and freezing rain before changing over to all snow during the overnight and early morning hours of Saturday. At this time the heaviest snow totals are expected the closer you get to the Minnesota border, perhaps as high as 8 inches. Snow totals south of Highway 20 are expected to decrease sharply as most of the precipitation falls as a mixed bag before a quick changeover to snow.
Even though snow totals in many areas should be below 4 or 5 inches, very strong winds on Saturday will blow any amount of snow around, greatly reducing visibilities and making travel nearly impossible at times in some parts of the state. It is safe to say any kind of travel that can be avoided in areas under a blizzard warning should be delayed or cancelled. It doesn’t take a lot of snow to create blinding conditions with winds gusting in excess of 40mph.
This is an extremely dangerous situation that needs to be taken seriously before venturing out tonight or tomorrow. Winds will remain strong throughout the night across Iowa and will only begin to ease up later in the day on Sunday. That’s when temperatures will drop like a rock, with lows dipping well below zero and wind chills dropping to –20 to –30.
We’ll continue to monitor the latest conditions across the state and bring you the very latest. We also plan to launch a live chat tomorrow from 10am to 6pm. There you can join us to ask questions and submit your storm reports as well as photos of this winter storm.