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Well, it's D-Day in my area as we await the onslaught of a winter storm that will bring plenty of disruptions Friday night through Saturday night. Before I get to the nuts and bolts of the storm I just wanted to mention that it was at this time last year when things went into the toilet and winter exploded with snow and bitter cold. Not saying this year will rival last years power but there are some very interesting and noteworthy changes on the table.

Take a look at this, it's the temperature departures for next Thursday January 16th (6 days down the road). By then we'll have had a couple more snow systems and temperatures on the GFS are shown going into the tank. From my area northwest readings are 20-45 degrees below normal on the GFS.

Over the 10 day period (January 16-26th) the average temperature departures.

These are the projected lows. 10-20 below zero...ouch!

Toss in a nice breeze and you get wind chills like this. 30 to 35 below...minus 54 in Minnesota!

At least for the GFS it's game on for winter.

Let's get to the storm! Winter storm warnings or advisories are now flying around my area. After Thursday's March-like highs (50-60 degrees), readings won't budge much today as northerly winds bring back the cold that creates the snow and ice of tonight. Here's the warnings in place.

As of early today models have backed off some on the intensity of the storm and shifted the track east a bit. That has brought snowfall potential down by several inches since yesterday. Certainly more realistic. However, a significant Winter Storm is still expected to impact the area today through Saturday evening with multiple hazards.

Precipitation will start out as areas of rain and snow towards evening. Tonight snow accumulation of 1-3 inches are possible, especially in the NW half of my area from near Ottumwa to about Iowa City and in to near Freeport, Illinois. Further southeast rain will change over to freezing rain and sleet overnight into Saturday morning. Significant ice and sleet accumulations are possible. The ice and sleet will change over to all snow from northwest to southeast late tonight or ealy Saturday. Additional snow will fall Saturday afternoon and evening, with several inches possible in most areas...if the current track holds. This wintry mess will combine with strong north winds and is likely to bring blowing snow to some areas, as well as tree and power line damage where ice accumulations are greater closer to the Quad Cities and points southeast. This part of the forecast needs to be monitored closely.

As for snow, the NWS is showing this for accumulations. This is a good starting point but changes in track and intensity could still alter these number. We will monitor it for updates through the day.

This is the NWS high end potential (worst case scenario).

The NWS low end potential, the best case scenario.

The odds of 4 or more inches of snow currently look like this.

In general, snow along with some mixed precipitation is expected tonight into Saturday evening. Snow should be heaviest tonight in the NW half and in most areas again Saturday afternoon and evening. Icing could be significant, especially in the southeast half tonight before the transition to snow on Saturday. Snow accumulations of 3 to as much as 8" are possible across the area. N/NE winds could gust to 35 mph.

Most of the troubles should off until evening when mixed precipitation rapidly expands southeast across the region. Hazardous travel is expected in all areas by morning, developing first in the NW half this evening. Stay tuned for updates on the evolution of the storm right here on throughout the event. Roll weather...TS

ONLY A FEW SPOTS LEFT FOR WEATHER SCHOOL....WE'VE GOT AN EXCELLENT PROGRAM PLANNED AND WE WOULD LOVE TO HAVE YOU ENROLL. GRAB THE LAST SPOTS NOW...DETAILS BELOW 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

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