Remember the March 1st, 2007 blizzard that crippled nearly a third of Iowa? If not, mother nature might soon bring a harsh reminder. The National Weather Service is warning of a “historic” storm this week. Looking at the consistent runs of multiple forecast models I fear the warning is merited.
Before I begin my analysis, I can’t stress this enough. This has the potential to be a devastating winter storm that could cripple portions of Iowa. Travel could be nearly impossible, heavy snow and strong winds could lead to power outages and normal commerce may slow or come to a halt.
So here’s how this will work. A low pressure system will makes its way just south of Iowa, as it reaches Illinois, the low is expected to deepen dramatically. Before that even happens, heavy snow on the front side of the system is expected to bury Iowa. 6”-12” is possible. Some areas could see up to 18” if thunder snow occurs.
As the heaviest snow passes, several hours of light to moderate snow is expected to persist for several hours over eastern Iowa. The slowdown in snowfall is only the start of our problems. As the low deepens and eastern Iowa falls on the back side of the system, extremely strong winds will blow through for a long period of time.
This would lead to impassable roads and some snowdrifts even plows can’t punch through. A scenario like this could lead to road closures on a large scale, everything from county roads to interstates and everything in between. A secondary concern is with winds so strong, power lines could snap leading to large scale outages. Although a bigger threat during an ice storm, the weight of the heavy snow could lead to increased risk of such an event.
At any rate, the middle of this week could be catastrophic. The best advice, as always, is to stay tuned, stay aware, and always prepare. Make sure you have all the necessary supplies needed in case of a prolonged event that forces you to stay at home. Also make sure you have everything you need to stay warm and safe in the event of a prolonged power outage.