The Final Track: How a Tiny Shift in the Storm’s Path Could Have a Huge Impact

gfs_slp_024mSo we are now in the final hours before a major winter storm tears through the heart of the United States. Blizzard warnings will go into effect Tuesday for a large portion of southern and eastern Iowa.  There is talk of many areas getting more than a foot of snow with this storm.  Yet there is still some concern such high snow totals won’t happen.  So let’s break all of this down for you.

The snow in Iowa should get going during the afternoon hours, spreading in from the south.  After sunset on Tuesday, snowfall should intensify along with strong wind gusts.  Snow could fall at a rate of 1”-3” per hour in some areas.  In fact thundersnow is also a possibility within the heavier bands. 

But there is some doubt as to the eventual track and overall strength of the storm.  At this point it all boils down to how tightly the storm center wraps up and when.  The sooner the storm drops in minimum pressure at the center, the more northerly track it will take, bringing it closer to Iowa and surging more moisture our way.  If this patter delays a few hours, we could see lower snow totals.

As for areas in the Blizzard Warning in Iowa, the low ever forecast calls for 6”-12”.  I feel this is a relatively fair assessment.  However, I want to stress that significantly more snow is possible the further south you get of Interstate 80, especially east of Iowa City.  In this extreme southeast portion of Iowa, the greatest threat for totals in the 12”-20” range exist.

Regardless of the final snow totals, wind gusts up to and exceeding 40mph will blow the snow around.  Drifts several feet deep will be possible making travel in some places difficult if not impossible.  It would not be surprising if local law officials are forced to close some roadways because plows simply cannot keep up with what mother nature is throwing at them.

We’ll continue to do our best to provide updates throughout the day on Tuesday as the storm moves in.  We’ll also keep tabs on things and post pictures when we can. 

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