SNOWIEST WEEK IN HISTORY!
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HISTORIC (MAKE THAT EPIC) WEEK FOR SNOW
Numerous times over my 48-year weather career, I have seen models that showed back to back major snowstorms. I would add up the totals and think to myself, gosh, wouldn't it be great if that actually happened. More often than not, I was lucky to get one as opposed to both. It was always a personal pipe dream. About the only time I remember it happening was in January 1979. Even then, it was over a 2-week period.
Well, today the dream has become a reality. Over a 5-day stretch, both the Quad Cities and Dubuque (most likely Cedar Rapids and Iowa City too), set all-time records for the snowiest week on record. (That's not counting what fell Saturday).
The 15.4 inches at the Moline International Airport was the second highest 24 hour snowfall ever, falling 1 inch short of the all-time single event record of 16.4 inches January 3rd, 1971. Saturday morning, these were the reported snow depths from the NWS. That's what I call good sledding!
Once again, the snowfall tallies from Friday's event. The most locally is 17.4 inches in Geneseo, Illinois, just east of the Quad Cities.
After a relatively snow free December, seasonal totals are now approaching three feet in many parts of my area, some places have slightly exceeded that level. For example, Steve Gottschalk in Lowden, Iowa (Cedar County), is over the 40-inch mark. But look how far we've come. December 23rd, 8.8 percent of the nation had snow cover. Today, that number has climbed to nearly 50 percent.
As far as additional snow is concerned, Thursday night is the time frame to watch. A short wave is shown over the Pacific Northwest getting set to dig into the Plains. At this point, the degree of amplification will determine how strong the associated forcing will be and how far south the energy tracks. It looks respectable over Washington State below.
Models are not overly excited about a surface reflection yet, but I see potential in the pattern for a compact snow band somewhere in the central Midwest that might yield 1–3 inches. We'll watch the trends in coming days.
What's really wild is the remarkable reversal we've seen in the weather pattern here recently. December just completed is officially in the books as the warmest in Iowa history going back to 1893 with a statewide average temperature of 34.47 degrees.
It wasn't just Iowa, the entire upper Midwest region experienced its warmest December by 3 degrees going back to 1895.
Those days are gone (at least this week) as some intensely cold air rolls over the region. Saturday morning the temperature at Dillon, Montana reached 42 below which is the coldest reading ever recorded at that site. It's that air mass that's currently surging into the Midwest.
With the exceptional amount of snow on the ground, we are in line for some severe cold this week. The worst of it may be Monday morning, when lows dip to 18-23 below on the EURO.
Those lows are coming with a brisk wind that has the potential to produce dangerous wind chills of 35-45 below.
For perspective, actual lows of 20 below are 35-40 below normal. So much for the warmth of December.
If you are looking for some good news, which as been limited the past week, I have some. Around January 20th, the 500mb pattern relaxes and zonal flow returns. The energetic structure of the atmosphere is depleted, which is no surprise considering the past week. A zonal flow emerges that will eliminate the Arctic air and replace it with modified Pacific air. The deep snow pack will temper the warm-up, but better days are ahead if you can make it through the coming week. Roll weather...TS