COMPLEX WINTER STORM ON THE TABLE...
While some important details are yet to be resolved, confidence continues to grow that a significant storm will bring a wide variety of weather to the nations mid-section Friday night and especially later Saturday and Saturday night.
This system could pack a real punch and be quite disruptive to parts of my region and the surrounding area. No doubt it is going to be a challenge to forecast in terms of precipitation types, amounts, and the location of the heaviest snow. After some doubt earlier Wednesday about how the storm storm would evolve, now all models agree in principle on the general trends.
Due to their recent consistency I am leaning heavily on the EURO and 12K NAM in their overall handling of the track and precipitation shield. Both models have been staunch in taking a closed upper air low right over Quincy this weekend and that is the sweet spot for heavy snow, especially Saturday night.
There also looks to be two potential periods of precipitation. The first round in some areas could start as rain and then transitions to freezing rain, sleet. especially southeast of a line from Cedar Rapids to Dubuque. This initial wave of precip eventually mixes with or changes to snow before it moves out by Saturday morning.The best chances for a couple inches of slushy accumulation Friday night appears to be NW of a line from Iowa City and on to Freeport, Illinois. From that line southeast to the Quad Cities mixed precipitation is more likely with rain changing to freezing rain or sleet and perhaps some snow before ending. A few models show up to a 1/2" of freezing rain or sleet near the Quad Cities. This part of the forecast, especially the icing is very hard to call and much lower in confidence at this time
Accumulated freezing rain on the EURO
With that wave of energy departing early Saturday there should be a window through noon, maybe early afternoon where it's just cloudy and dry. Then the main energy ejects and that should generate snow as its precipitation shield spreads back over the region Saturday afternoon and night. The exception could be southeast of the Quad Cities where a mix would then change to snow in the evening. The surface low itself goes from south central Illinois right over the southern tip of Lake Michigan. again a prime spot for heavy snow in a deformation band that sets up over my area.
Winds will get going pretty good for a time Saturday night with some gusts up to 30 from the NE. The snow will be pretty wet initially but there could be a time Saturday night where blowing and drifting is found in the open country. By Sunday morning the snow quickly lets up and departs.
The operational EURO shows this for total snow accumulations (that includes what falls Friday night in the NW.
The 12K NAM has the general look of the EURO
The GFS is a bit further east but compared to what it showed earlier is finally in the ball game.
The key factors to watch for Thursday are any changes in track or intensity in coming runs that would move the playing field around...meaning the snow band could go east or west resulting in higher or lower amounts. That is a possibility you always worry about right up to the end. Having said that, I think if the idea of a phased storm holds like the EURO, NAM, and now the GFS show.
Another big factor with this storm is the potential for unusually heavy rains. Very high moisture levels could lead to rains of 3-5 inches in parts of Illinois. Flooding is a major concern and many flood watches are in effect.
This system has the potential to be a significant ice and snowstorm for some part of my area and I would expect winter storm watches to be issued at some point by the NWS...perhaps by the time you read this. We still have a little time to fine tune some key details but the models are very bullish and red flags are flying. So while this still has time to change some, confidence is now high for a healthy winter storm to impact a large part of my area. Stay tuned and roll weather...TS
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