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It was a long time coming but the first real snow of the year finally came to the northern half of my area Tuesday. While you guys down south are still waiting, don't cry too much, your chance is coming New Years day and it should be worth waiting for. As for me, about 3" of white gold piled up at my place and tears of JOY filled my eyes at the glory of the sight. Below my backyard just before noon with nice big Charlie Brown flakes falling. Very tasty!

Here's where the bulk of the snow fell thanks to the Iowa Mesonet. EC Iowa and NW Illinois fared best. The SW half of Iowa missed out entirely.

A regional perspective of snow totals

There's plenty more below on two additional systems that will bring more snow and without a doubt the coldest weather in nearly a year. First, a word on weather school

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Before I get to what appears to be a disruptive snow for New Year's day, there's another much smaller system to mention that is likely to deposit some light snow late Wednesday/Wednesday evening. The culprit is a weak wave that streaks northeast with just enough lift to wring out some snow. Overall, amounts are expected to be quite light but there may be a narrow band that sets-up capable of fluffy 1-2" totals due to high snow ratios. All major models are hinting at that potential but the location is not consistently supported. The EURO would be my most likely scenario with the GEM a close second. The GFS points to a couple bands one north and another south and seems to be an outlier. Whatever happens, if the snow materializes it will be drier and lighter than what fell Tuesday. It could cause some slick driving conditions, especially within the heavier band if it develops. Here's what models are currently showing for amounts. I'll start with the EURO, my preferred solution.




After this little bump we've got about 48 hours to prepare for what looks to be the main show late New Years Night lasting well into New Years day. With this system heavy snow, strong winds, and Arctic air have the potential to combine and create what could be a high impact storm for much of the area. The operative words being "could be".

Since we are still 72 hours out, we are just beginning to get into the data rich grids of the west meaning there's still time for changes in phasing, track, and intensity that could significantly alter amounts and the position of the snow band. Already I'm seeing a wide range of solutions based on the 0Z runs and confidence has decreased since earlier Tuesday. The EURO is the furthest north and remains consistent. It really drills my area. The GFS and GEM are less amplified and are further south, especially the GEM which has significantly reduced snow totals in the northern half of my area. The screaming message here is that solutions currently range from a major storm to one that barely meets advisory criteria. Phasing is the key and hopefully that issue is resolved in short order.

I will show you the latest snow forecasts but I stress, this is just raw model output and not a forecast. Not only are individual models currently different, their numbers and placement are going to move around going forward as data is refined. In the end, the idea is to get as much model consistency as possible 24 hours before the event. Also a trend I've noticed over the years is that models tend to be too high in QPF (precip. amounts) at this distance and often lower them some as the event nears. Trust me, it's complex! Here's the latest snowfall output.

The EURO (the furthest north and worst case scenario)

The GFS (a middle ground solution)

The GEM (the furthest south and least impactful solution)

One thing I have high confidence in is the fact that air temperatures get colder and colder with this system as it passes to the southeast. Strong NE winds will create blowing and drifting snow and could make travel difficult in the open country, especially where the heavier snow ends up falling. By Sunday morning lows are expected to be below zero with wind chills 15 to 25 below. The EURO indicates this for lows Sunday morning.

Wind chills late Saturday night are in the range of 15 to 25 below.

Needless to say there's a lot of weather on the table but the devil is in the details which are yet to be finalized. Stay tuned for the latest trends. Until next time, roll weather...TS


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