ROCKIN' IN THE FREE WIND...
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THE BIG BLOW...
A powerful December storm took its wrath out on the Midwest Wednesday in the form of wind and severe thunderstorms, some with tornadoes and wind gusts up to 90 mph. All of my area experienced winds of 60-80 mph. The Storm Prediction Center placed much of Iowa under a moderate risk of severe weather which is the first time that's ever happened during the month of December. In fact, at no other time during the entire year did we see a moderate risk issued for any part of the state.
At one time or another all of Iowa was under a tornado watch which included my area. By late Wednesday night 537 reports of severe weather had been registered with the event winding down. 497 of the reports were for severe wind with another 21 issued for tornadoes, a very big day. I don't know for sure, but I believe all 99 counties in Iowa went under a tornado or severe thunderstorm warning at some point in time. That's a first for me! We were rockin' in the free wind as Neil Young would say.
Besides the powerful winds, the other big weather story was the temperatures. The intensely high SW winds fields were able to transport exceptionally warm air into the Midwest resulting in all-time record December highs in many locations including the Quad Cities, Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, and Burlington in my local area. These were late afternoon readings around the Midwest Wednesday afternoon.
Additionally, daily records for the date were smashed by as much as 15 degrees. Cedar Rapids crushed their daily record by 18 degrees! Imagine that, 18 degrees warmer than any other December 15th day in 150 years of records. Below you can see most of the central Midwest ended up with highs 35-40 degrees above the norms!
On this satellite image, you can see the dry line bulge extending into eastern Nebraska. On its leading edge is a squall line producing 60-80 mph wind gusts. East of that is where readings were at record levels across Iowa and western Illinois.
Now that the storm is racing into Canada pressure rises continue at a good clip which means winds remain strong through Thursday morning. Early morning gusts may still be in the 30-40 mph range but slowly and surely they will subside as the day wears on. High wind warnings and advisories will be lifted by evening if not sooner. Temperatures will slip into the low to mid 30s early Thursday and only rise a few degree during the day as cold advection kicks in.
That leaves us with a colder pattern through the weekend. With high pressure firmly secured I mainly see dry conditions with one exception. There is a weak system Friday night that could just swipe the far SE with a bit of snow or a rain snow mix. Latest model runs were a bit further north on the potential. We'll see where trends go on that situation later Thursday. Otherwise, highs are expected to remain in the mid to upper 30s Friday falling to the low to mid 30s Saturday and Sunday. Monday sees a quick warm-up with highs in the 40-45 degree range but Tuesday we head right back down with readings lowering to the upper 20s and low 30s.
I've been getting lots of questions about the potential for any snow before Christmas? Overall the prognosis is not great but with 8 days until Christmas Eve things are far from certain. The two shots I'm currently showing are tied to the Friday night system and another slated for Christmas Eve or Christmas day. If things go well we might just get enough to whiten things up a touch. Again, at this distance confidence on accumulation snow is low but for now, that's all I've got. Here's what models are showing.