THE WHOLE ENCHILADA...
A powerful high impact winter storm is rapidly progressing southeast through the Midwest. Snow that began falling last night NW of the Quad Cities is moving through the rest of the region early Thursday. It's expected to end in in all areas by Thursday evening. Rapidly falling temperatures and increasing winds will set the table for whiteout conditions later Thursday or Thursday night in the open country. Sub zero temperatures Thursday night will create wind chills of 30-35 below zero. Combined with blowing and drifting snow travel will be difficult and dangerous through Friday night. Blizzard warnings are out for the NW half of my area and could be extended further SE if needed. Otherwise, winter storm warnings are in effect for the rest of the region. This storm is the whole enchilada!
As you can see, many parts of the country are under similar advisories indicating difficult travel conditions are going to be widespread.
Overall, snow totals are not going to be extreme in my area and would typically just warrant winter weather advisories. However, the other elements of wind and cold turn it into a significant event. By the time the snow exits later Thursday accumulations of 2-6 inches should be widespread around the region, heaviest in my NW counties. The official NWS forecast as of Tuesday night indicates this for a range of totals.
As Thursday morning unfolds dramatic changes take place as the Arctic front steamrolls the region. To start around daybreak readings are in the range of 25 to 30.
By 6:00pm Thursday evening temperatures have fallen 35-40 degrees and are in the range of 8 to 13 below zero according to the EURO.
That's creating life threatening wind chills of 30-40 below zero.
The big take-away is that conditions will deteriorate rapidly Thursday morning with the deepening cold and increasing winds. Don't get caught off guard as to what is coming late Thursday into Friday. Even without falling snow, whiteout conditions are expected at times, especially in the open flat country.
This storm rapidly explodes over the Great Lakes Thursday night deepening to 970mb. Off to the west a 1051mb high is situated over North Dakota. The tremendous range from low to high pressure is going to create powerful winds that could gust over 50mph.
The gradient does not relax much until Christmas day so the strong winds howl into Christmas Eve. The recent light powdery snow will easily be lofted and blowing and drifting continues through the period. That is why the NWS has blizzard warnings in effect from Thursday evening through Saturday morning, even without falling snow.
With conditions changing so fast Thursday it's difficult to get too much more in depth than what I've laid out so far. For that reason I will do a Facebook live hit late Thursday morning to reassess the situation and make amendments if necessary. I will make an announcement on Facebook ahead of the briefing to give you an idea of the set time which will be close to noon. With that, it's time to watch the show unfold. Enchiladas for everyone! Stay smart and safe if you are traveling! Roll weather...TS