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A complex and potentially severe winter storm is set to deliver a 1-2 punch to the Midwest this week. The snowy side of the storm will remain just north of my area but the icy side is likely to impact at least the north third of my area. Along with the ice threat Wednesday night, will come strong winds of up to 35 mph. There are still details to work out regarding the location and amount of icing so while confidence is low in that regard, it is high that a band of significant ice is likely across the far north. For now, the area near HWY 20 is most at risk but some models show the ice potential as far south as HWY 30. At some point an ice storm warning is possible for the northern tier of my counties near HWY 20, at the very least a winter weather advisory.


When you break things down synoptically, the coming storm actually arrives in 2 phases. The first is basically a miss for my area. It's set up by the cold front that's now south of the region. It's brought gusty winds overnight and noticeably colder temperatures but no precipitation. Highs in the north Tuesday will hold around 32 while the far south drops to the low to mid 40s after springlike readings in the mid 50s Monday. This sets up a strong baroclinic boundary where temperatures range from the teens in southern Minnesota to near 60 in central Missouri Tuesday.

The initial impulse thrives on frontogentic forcing north of the thermal boundary cutting across Iowa. That leaves Minnesota, Wisconsin, and extreme northern Iowa impacted by the lead impulse which drops 3-8" snows in that part of the upper Midwest starting late Tuesday and Tuesday night. It all stays north of HWY 20 and avoids my area completely.


The second phase of the storm is the one associated with the primary wave ejecting out of the southwest later Wednesday. Phasing between the polar and sub-tropical jet ramps up Wednesday night. It results in upper level winds increasing to speeds of 150-200 mph! That draws deep moisture northward and aids in the development of low pressure. This is the time frame for ice in the northern third of my area and what could be heavy rain in the south, especially in the area near and southeast of the Quad Cities.

As for ice accumulations, as mentioned above we are still honing in on where and how much with a range of 1/10 to 1/2 inch consistently depicted near HWY 20. Some models are even higher than that. Probabilities of ice accumulations of 1/10th of an inch or more in this area are 60-80 precent according to the Weather Prediction Center. They are more like 20-40 percent for totals of 1/4 inch or more which seems low to me.

The latest hi-resolution and deterministic models aside from the GFS keep the majority of the ice out of all but my northern tier of counties along HWY 20. I think that trend has merit considering the strength of the system and its warm air advection. Whatever happens, east/southeast winds of 30-35 mph are a concern for power outages in any area that would get significant ice accrual.

Here is what the latest guidance is indicating for potential ice accumulations. There remains noticeable differences in placement and amounts.



The 3k NAM

The 12k NAM

The Canadian GEM

That brings us to the rain potential which by February standards is significant. So much so that WPC has my southeast counties in a slight risk of excessive rains Wednesday night

That's not shocking when you consider the avaiable water vapor of an inch or more in most of my area. The EURO indicates PWATS that look like this.

In central Illinois they are shown 425% above normal values.

With K index values of 25-35 Wednesday and Wednesday night, there is certainly enough instability for a thunderstorm.

Here's what models are suggesting for total precipitation from the event.



The Canadian 10k

This graphic depicts precipitation amounts by type. You can see how the snow in purple stays just north of the region.

Here you can see how the various types of precipitation are laid out at 6:00pm Wednesday evening.

Rest assured if you are in my area you should be thankful you are not in Minnesota or most of Wisconsin. A shut down blizzard is expected there with extreme snow totals. If you are traveling into that area starting late Tuesday into Friday morning I would highly suggest you make an informed decision before you depart. Here's some suggested snow totals, some greater than 2 feet. Man, I am seriously thinking of heading up that way to get in on the fun. I have a 24 inch snowstorm on my bucket list. I'll never reach that goal around here and I'm sure not getting any younger!



The 12k NAM

The Canadian 10k

Behind the system, it turns windy and very cold Thursday night with lows in the single digits north of I-80 by Friday morning. If that's not enough, some additional light snow is possible by Friday eveing. Accumulations generally look to be an inch or less. Plenty of time to worry about that later. Roll weather...TS


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