WXUPDATE: Crippling Winter Storm on Tap for Central US

nam_slp_060mIt’s coming.  The exact where and how much will fluctuate, but it’s almost a certainly many parts of the central United States will see more than a foot of snow fall by mid-week.  A powerful storm system with direct access to gulf moisture will barrel through the area, dropping heavy snow over a large area, including parts of Iowa.

As a result, much of the southern half of Iowa is already under a Winter Storm Watch, for a storm set to arrive on Tuesday.  This storm system will track south and east of Iowa.  At this time, forecast model runs place the heaviest snow bands just southeast of Iowa.  But that doesn’t mean this won’t be a dangerous storm for the state.  Up to 6”-10” is possible over parts of Iowa, especially areas south of Highway 30 and east of Interstate 35.  The general rule of thumb at this time is the closer you are to Illinois and Missouri, the higher the snow totals should be.

In fact, some areas of Missouri and Illinois are bracing for as much as 15”-20” of snow!  The reason is a strong center of low pressure set to track over this area.  At this time it appears a wide open Gulf of Mexico will sent a seemingly limitless supply of moisture into the storm as it tracks through the region.  This will produce very heavy snowfall rates and strong enough convection to produce thunder snow in some areas. 

Although at this time Iowa does not appear to be the primary target, many areas will likely fall into a Winter Storm Warning criteria beginning Tuesday and running through Wednesday.  Compounding the problem will be strong winds, creating near blizzard conditions as well as impassable snow drifts. 

All of this comes as the northern half of the state deals with a weaker storm system tonight and into tomorrow.  Several inches of snow is possible over the northern half during this time frame, prompting a Winter Weather Advisory.  All in all a very active period with a lot of questions that remain to be answered.  We’ll continue to monitor the latest trends and provide updates when and if the forecast changes.  For now, best be prepared for several inches of snow and difficult travel for a good portion of this week, no matter where in Iowa you live.

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