We’ve been talking about it for a couple of days and now the storm is almost here. The models have come into relative agreement and now it appears all but certain that much of Iowa will see a very significant amount of snow.
As a result, the National Weather Service has posted numerous Winter Storm Warnings that cover much of the state (areas shaded in pink). It appears forecasters opted not to go with a Blizzard Warning, but this could change if the conditions warrant. Near blizzard like conditions are expected, but the lack of a current snow pack has some wondering if a prolonged blizzard is, in fact, possible.
Either way, conditions will deteriorate throughout the state throughout the day. From west to east, the snow will move in, especially during the early afternoon into early evening hours. By sunset, most areas should be changed over to all snow. At first, snowfall rains should be light to moderate, but as night falls, the storm center will strengthen and heavier snow bands will develop.
Most forecast models pin a strong swatch of snow from central Iowa into eastern and northern Iowa. This is where the greatest potential exists for 8”-12” of snow with locally higher amounts. As the heavy snow falls and we move into Thursday morning, winds will begin to pick up in a big way. Sustained winds of 20-35mph are possible, especially across the eastern half of the state. Gusts, in fact, could top the 50mph mark from time to time. This, coupled with the heavy snow, will produce treacherous, if not impossible travel conditions.
This is something almost every commuter, motorists and holiday traveler should keep up to date on throughout the day Wednesday and into Thursday. Depending on the time it takes for bands of snow to move out of Iowa and the winds to die down, difficult driving conditions could persist into Friday. Also of concern is heavy snowfall and wind could make some roads impassable. This could strand motorists and could produce life threatening situation. ANY motorists who feel they need to venture out Wednesday Night or Friday Morning should be prepared in case disaster strikes. Make sure you have a winter survival kit in the car, and always have a well-charged cell phone in case of an emergency.
Behind ALL of this is a much colder air mass. Coupled with the new snow pack and temperatures behind this system will crash. This could produce some dangerous wind chills before temperatures warm in the coming days.
After this storm system we should get a prolonged break before any other chances of snow. There are some signs of another storm system in the next week or two, but far too distant for any meaningful prediction. For now, stay up to date on the latest developments, and above all stay safe!