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Another significant winter storm is on its way to the region, promising to bring more in the way of wind, snow and dramatically colder temperatures later in the weekend. Some spots down south may even see a period of freezing rain or a rain/snow mix for a time Friday morning. Due to the potential, a winter storm warning has been issued for all but my far southern tier of counties Thursday night to noon Saturday.

With less than 36 hours to go, the deterministic runs of the GFS and EURO are now in pretty good agreement on how the energy evolves coming out of a complex west coast trough. In this 500mb animation, you can watch the vorticity as it's slingshotted out of the southwest and rolls right into the mid-Mississippi Valley on its way to the Great Lakes.

The surface low itself is shown tracking to Champaign, Illinois Friday afternoon, eventually attaining a central pressure of 975mb (or 28.79 inches) as it heads for South Bend. The intense pressure gradient between a Polar high out west and the storm itself leads to a very windy environment. N/NE winds are likely to gust to at least 45 mph, possibly 50.

The heaviest precipitation is likely east of the Mississippi. However, the track of the 850 low is actually similar to Tuesday's big storm. That and the powerful nature of the storm could force a dry slot into far SE Iowa and WC Illinois. It could even cause the heavier snow to fall further into the NW half of my area. That's a wild card to watch going forward. There are some tricky elements to this system.

No matter how things unfold, the potential for heavy snow is very much on the table in the central and north. With the strong winds and colder temperatures drawn into the system, snow ratios will be higher than the last storm. Additionally, blowing and drifting snow could become a major factor where readings are coldest in the NW. The NWS has indicated in its AFD that a blizzard warning is a possibility for parts of the area. As for accumulations, here's what models are suggesting. These are not forecasts, just the raw data that forecasts will be based on. I will also include the official NWS forecast at the end.



The 3k NAM

The 12k NM


The Regional Canadian GEM

That leads me to the official NWS forecast.

What stands out is that the heaviest snow is forecast across the north half, like we talked about above. I'm assuming that's the byproduct of the upper air low tracking through central Missouri and Illinois. That's what the 3k NAM, GEM, and to some degree the EURO are indicating too. The GFS might be too wet and far west with the deformation band, and I have some concerns about its further south solution. Needless to say, there are still a few issues that need to be worked out Thursday in advance of the storm.

Once the heavier snows end Friday evening, snow showers are likely to continue into Saturday as strong winds and cold air wring out any residual moisture.

Then we get down to brass tacks with cold air. Starting Sunday morning, the GFS shows 9 consecutive mornings below zero, with 13 out of 14 days sub-zero January 13th-26th. Wind chills of 10 to 35 below are common for about a week. With the deep snow cover, I would not at all be surprised to see some lows go 25 below (or colder), if we get the right combination of clear skies and light winds.

These are the 7-day temperature departures for the period January 15th-22nd. Most of my area is 25 degrees below normal per day!

I will close with this, the pattern we are in and will be the next week is epic. It's been ages since I've seen a set-up such as this. January 1979 was probably the last time I've seen anything on the scale I'm witnessing now. We have some harsh times ahead. That's all for now. Roll weather...TS



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