top of page
thumbnail_1 ts baner, future in your hands.png


Thursday in a post I mentioned that a clipper disturbance might catch the northeast parts of my area with some snow as it digs southeast. Recent runs have been digging and tracking the system further and further west and now it looks like the southwest half of the region has the best chances for snow and the northeast may miss out altogether.

This is where the NWS in Des Moines showed the highest threat of snow late Thursday. Well, things change and now we have a different scenario.

To give you an idea of how fast things change, this is what the afternoon run of the 3k NAM looked like for snow.

The night run just 6 hours later shows a significant push west of the heavier snow taking much of my area except the far south out of the snow band. I don't like to see swings like that at the last hour.

Having said that, the GFS is not as far west and shows this for accumulations.More of my area gets in on the act.but now its the southwest half of my area that gets most of the gold. The northeast is left holding the empty bag.

This is the culprit, a compact but potent piece of energy that is closed off at 500mb. It's likely to produce some nice lift in a narrow band just east of the upper lows track. Question is, where is it going?

The negative with this system is the lack of moisture. Most models depict liquid equivalents on the order of 0.05 to 0.20" where the heaviest snow falls. It falls into an air mass that should yield snow ratios of about 13:1. While that generally translates to totals of 1/2 to 2 inches in the primary swath, banding could squeeze out a couple 3" totals where forcing is maximized. If trends hold chances are that a winter weather advisory will be issued for some of my western counties, especially SW of a line from Waterloo to Cedar Rapids and close to the Quad Cities. The majority of the snow falls between 5:00pm and 4:00am Friday night as it spreads from northwest to southeast.

This is what the EURO shows for total precipitation.

This is what the latest EURO has for total snowfall.

To summarize, considering how late it is in the game there is still some doubt as to the exact track of the disturbance. A last minute shift in track 25-30 miles SW to NE is still possible so confidence is not as high as it normally would be. However, I think the best chances for an inch or two of snow is SW of a line from roughly Waterloo to Cedar Rapids and on close to the Quad Cities. I will have an update for you by mid to late morning. No issues before evening.

The snow moves out where it does fall by daybreak Saturday and the rest of the weekend looks quiet. Saturday will be chilly with seasonal temperatures around 30, especially where there is a snow pack. Sunday should be warmer as the next clipper tracks across Minnesota bringing a surge of southerly winds and about 10 degrees of moderation. More to come. Roll weather...TS

ONLY A HANDFUL OF SPOTS STILL AVAILABLE FOR WEATHER SCHOOL... is offering a very special and unique opportunity to learn first-hand the ins and outs of weather forecasting with one of the best meteorologists in the Midwest along with his team of expert meteorologists.

That’s right… You want to forecast right along with Terry Swails, well now you can. He’s teaching weather with TSwails newest program called WEATHER SCHOOL. The opening bell rings this January and you can be a member of the very first graduating class. The one-day forecasting seminar for weather enthusiasts will be held at his home in January. It’s not your typical run-of-the-mill school. There will be no tests, but Terry, Rebecca, and Nick will cram your head with so much knowledge, it’ll be spinning like a tornado before the day is over.

You want to know the essential online sites to use for models, radar, and the basic weather tools? DONE! You want to understand the structure of models and the role they play? DONE! You want to be able to construct forecasts from the ground up? DONE!

WEATHER SCHOOL will be presented in a seminar-type format where you'll have the ability to ask questions and dig deep. You’ll get the scoop on data acquisition, model analysis, severe weather, and actual forecasting from the big dog himself, T. Swails. With 43 years of experience and an uncanny ability to break the science down, you’ll open the door to forecasting like never before.

Along with the head master T. Swails himself, meteorologists Rebecca Kopelman and Nick Stewart of KGAN TV will be there to lend their knowledge and experience to the discussion. It will be fun, informative, and factual! This is the day for you to see, feel, and experience what it’s like to be in the hot seat of a meteorologist.

The seminar will be held January 25th and will last from noon until 5:00pm. We have limited seating and the cost is $99 dollars per person. A catered lunch will be provided. Again..not a lot of seats so reservations with a pre-payment are required. Sorry, no refunds. If there’s enough interest, a second session will be added in early February. To register or get additional information send an email to

GIVE THE GIFT OF WEATHER. This might be the perfect gift for that hard to buy for person this Christmas. Along with a WEATHER SCHOOL admittance voucher, TSwails will send a special holiday greeting to your weather enthusiast if you give the gift of weather with the TSwails touch!



Purpose: To help weather enthusiasts understand the basics of forecasting and apply the knowledge and techniques learned to construct personal forecasts.


The essential on-line sites for models, observations, satellite and radar images, and general weather data.

Session 2: ANALYSIS:

Determining your objective goals. Short term, intermediate, or long-term. Understanding the process of analysis and its relationship to forecasting.

Model options and choices. What to use and when!

The GFS, EURO, NAM 3k, NAM 12K, Canadian, HRRR, MJO, ensembles, teleconnections, etc.

Locating, learning, and knowing what’s essential to make a reliable forecast.

The art and science of model interpretation: Using and understanding model output. Its called guidance for a reason!

Learn how to analyze key parameters such as:

Surface and upper air data

Vorticity and energy

Precipitation output

Wind and pressure


A simulation of the basic process using model output.

BREAK: A 25-30 minute recess to enjoy a catered lunch…


Thunderstorms, tornadoes, derechoes, and squall lines.

Soundings. What are they and why should I care?

Instability (CAPE) vs (CIN) Critical interaction involving moisture, heating, and forcing.

Uncovering the ingredients of a severe weather set-up.

TVS signatures. What to look for on radar.

Role of SPC vs NWS, and your local TV station regarding the warning process.

Simulated model driven forecast of a severe weather event/tornado outbreak


The key ingredients required for significant winter storm:

How to forecast the rain snow line.

How to forecast snow totals from QPF

Determining totals from snow ratios.

What to look for at the surface and at upper levels (500 and 850mb)

Model bias and determining the storm track

Simulated model driven forecast of a significant Midwest winter storm


An open period for attendees to ask questions regarding relevant topics or issues discussed during the day.


Some final words of inspiration from the events headliners

Once again, to reserve a spot or ask questions send an email to See you when the bell rings! Roll weather...T. Swails

bottom of page