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Make no mistake about it, we are in a pattern that is really ripe for impactful winter weather. That includes snow, wind, cold, and harsh wind chills. Right out of the gate today a fast moving but potent winter storm will bring all those factors into play by Thursday afternoon. Precipitation will start as light rain in the morning and quickly change to snow as the cold air arrives by afternoon. Winds gusting to 35-40 mph along with rapidly falling temperatures will cause considerable blowing and drifting snow later in the day. Brief periods of near whiteout conditions are possible at times in the open country Thursday afternoon and night. A winter storm warning is in effect for much of the area near and north of I-80 where 3-5" of snow is likely. A few local spots could see 6" in a narrow band north and west of the Quad Cities. Further south winter weather advisories are in effect where snow totals of 1-2" are anticipated near and south of HWY 34. Further west a blizzard warning is in effect for parts of central Iowa. The current headlines from the NWS.

Before I show what models are depicting for snow, this is the official NWS forecast. I greatly respect the work they do in the office but I have some doubts about these totals. Who really knows? However, my humble opinion is that these numbers are on the low end, especially in eastern Iowa.

To support my point I'm putting up the snowfall forecasts, which again are not official. This is guidance that allows us to develop a forecast. If you notice, the output is certainly different than what's officially shown with higher totals in Iowa The data also supports larger amounts further south down towards HWY 34.

The 0Z GFS came in strong Wednesday night and paints a healthy swath of snow in the 4-7" range from just south of I-80 all the way to Wisconsin. Just one model.

The EURO is similar with the placement of the snow band but not as heavy on the amounts.

The 12K NAM is a little further west on the heavier snow band and very focused on eastern Iowa.

The 3K NAM is in the same ballpark as the 12K and even more focused on a narrow but very intense band of snow that runs from Ottumwa to Cedar Rapids and on to Dubuque. This is an extreme scenario but the banding tied to frontogenic forcing is possible somewhere in eastern Iowa.

And the HRRR is right in the mix too.

In all honesty, things will get dicey with the wind and falling temperatures expected. Blowing snow could become a real issue in the open country. Keep in mind a blizzard warning is in effect for parts of central Iowa. It is not far fetched to think it could be extended further east for a short period of time depending on how conditions evolve Thursday. I'm sure the NWS is keeping a watchful eye on that potential.

As the storm passes bitter cold air follows and by Friday morning lows will be pushing zero near and north of I-80. Of more concern will be the wind chills which look to be in the range of 10-20 below. WC advisories are a given.

The rest of the weekend frigid air will have the Midwest firmly in its grips. However, two fast moving clipper type systems will flirt with the area. That means the potential is there for periods of clouds and even some snow. The best chances for fluffy accumulations will be in the south. However, there is model discrepancy with the EURO being further north and the GFS keeping much of the action near or even south of HWY 34. Not only does this make accumulations an issue, any snow and cloud cover at night would hold temperatures closer to zero as opposed to 15-20 below. You can't win for losing in that deal.

Believe it or not another potential snow is on the radar Monday for some part of the central Midwest. I am not going to tackle any of this yet as details in energy and tracks are too vague with all the activity in this noisy pattern. Suffice it to say, winter is thriving and there is some big ticket weather on the table. Roll weather...TS


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