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We're almost to April and by all accounts, the month will go out resembling a lion. Another potent storm is set to pounce on the Midwest Friday. It will give us a warm-up but the down side will be showers and storms, some of which have the potential to be severe.

Before I get ahead of myself, we've got a fast moving cold front to deal with Wednesday that brings scattered snow showers to the region very early in the day. They will be brief in nature and won't last long. However, a quick burst of snow may provide a few spots with a dusting, mainly in the north. Gusty winds and low wind chills are on the table early when temperatures will be at their coldest, in the low 20s north to around 30 south, wind chills in the teens are expected.

Even with some sun mixed in during the afternoon temperatures will struggle to get out of the mid 30s north to the low 40s south. A pretty frisky day for late March.

Thursday attention turns to the developing storm over the interior Rockies which comes barreling into the Midwest Friday. In this highly amplified and dynamic pattern, the surface low is likely to deepen rapidly and turn into another powerful system. Already on Thursday winds will be turning to the south creating warm advection clouds and some scattered showers Thursday afternoon. These will be confined to the far north ahead of a warm front that steadily pushes through the region during the day. It sets up a pretty good temperature contrast with highs behind it over the south reaching the low 60s while the far north remains cooler ahead of it in the upper 40s. Gusty SE winds of 25-30 mph are expected.

Thursday night temperatures will hold steady or even rise a few degrees as the the surface low deepens to the west. Moisture also enters the pattern and it's possible a few showers and storms pop ahead of the main storm as some energy ripples northeast in the strengthening SW flow. These look rather hit and miss in nature.


Friday is the day to watch for thunderstorms and what could be the first organized severe weather event of the season. As always, the usual issues arise between surface features and their intensity. This will have a significant impact on temperatures and severe weather potential. Already though, SPC shows an enhanced risk of severe weather over much of my area.

As it stands now, the GFS is stronger (979mb) and further NW on the track of the surface low NW of Clear Lake. The EURO is not as deep (989mb) and positioned closer to Charles City. (The side by side comparison at 4:00pm is shown below). That in turn allows the majority of my area access to the warm sector Friday. Highs in the 60s are depicted across the region with a 70 possible SW Iowa. A warm front should be close to HWY 20 with a cold front entering eastern Iowa.

The bottom line is that with sufficient heating, moisture will be there with dew points south of the warm front closing in on 60. There should be a wedge ahead of the surface low where CAPE of up to 1,200 j/kg is realized. Assuming that happens, thunderstorms should break out Friday afternoon ahead of the cold front which quickly advances towards eastern Iowa. You can see them depicted here on the GFS at 4:00pm.

There should be enough shear for strong updrafts. Near the warm front (wherever that lays out), winds will be backed further enhancing shear. That's where a tornado threat would be maximized. Again, not knowing the specifics of timing and placement of features leaves uncertainty as to how the situation unfolds. The worst case scenario would be significant supercells with hail, wind, and perhaps a couple of tornadoes. Another scenario is storms go up quickly and turn linear which leads to more of a wind and hail threat. Or, if the system is several hours faster, that would push the severe threat further east of the Mississippi. All of these options are on the table and with time we'll be able to dial in on the most likely set-up. Despite what appears to be strong dynamic potential, little details such as less moisture or limited heating can ruin the severe weather recipe, especially early in the season.


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Friday night the system passes and NW winds crank up with gusts to 40 mph. That pulls in much colder air and some wrap around snow showers, especially north of HWY 30 where a dusting to 1/2 inch is possible. That leads to a crisp start to April with highs Saturday well below normal in the 40s, about 20 degrees colder than Friday. We Giveth and we taketh away.

As for precipitation, here's what the models are indicating for rain and snow totals from the event ending Saturday. These amounts could be higher in spots where stronger storms occur.







Here's a bit of positive news. After the chilly start to the weekend Saturday, another warm-up is on the table Sunday

ahead of our next storm. The EURO meteorgram for Cedar Rapids has highs back in the 60s Sunday, approaching 70 next Tuesday. (I do caution this is tentative and assumes current trends hold). Then comes another crash as we taketh away once more after that. Ah, springtime in the Midwest!

That's all I have for you this time around. Buckle up, we're on the rollercoaster. Roll weather...TS


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