Wind will be the Main Problem

Update 9:50pm = Each NWS office is calling for a different advisory on Tuesday’s winter storm. The Milwaukee office is still going for a WINTER STORM WATCH (light blue). The Chicago office is going with a WINTER STORM WARNING (purple). The Quad Cities office has gone as far as calling for a BLIZZARD WARNING.

It is always trickier forecasting snowfall totals when the widespread precipitation initially begins as rain. With that being said, I am sticking with up to 2 inches of snow in Winnebago County with slightly higher totals to the west. Regardless of how much snow you pick up, it is going to be extremely difficult to get a good measurement with winds gusting up to 40 mph. One of the main reasons I am undercutting what other outlets are forecasting is that it appears as though much drier air will move in aloft around 6pm. This should shut off the snow during the early evening hours. However, this will do nothing to help the winds relax.

6pm discussion: Now let’s get into the nuts and bolts of this storm system. The advisories are NOT being issued because of large snowfall totals. They are being issued because northwest winds on the backside of this storm have the potential to gust as high as 45 mph.

The occasional rain shower may pass through the region tonight, but rainfall totals will stay below .10″. The showers should grow and become fairly widespread shortly after lunch on Tuesday. The precipitation will start as rain, but change over into snow during the mid-afternoon hours. I would expect most folks to receive 1 or 2 inches of snow by Tuesday night. It doesn’t sound like much, but with blustery winds it is going to cause the blowing and drifting of snow. Visibilities at times will drop below 1/4 mile, which is why the advisories have been posted. Travel is going to be a little stressful Tuesday evening. -ADAM

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This post was written by qni_it on January 28, 2008

4 Comments so far

  1. Justin January 29, 2008 4:30 AM

    The NWS is showing that this could be pretty nasty… When do you think the worst traveling times will be… and will it be nearly impossible to drive at some times tomorrow?

  2. tony January 29, 2008 4:34 AM

    That is what I am wondering. I work til 4 tomorrow afternoon and if these forecasts verify, I may be in trouble. Adam, do u think it will be very bad at 4pm.

  3. Adam Painter January 29, 2008 4:44 AM

    No doubt it is going to get nasty. The road conditions will start to deteriorate after 3pm, with the worst driving conditions probably between 5pm and midnight. Visibilities could get pretty low with the winds whipping the snow from side to side.

  4. WI Weather Buff January 29, 2008 8:50 AM

    The NWS glossary defines a blizzard as:

    —– quote —–

    Blizzard
    (abbrev. BLZD)- A blizzard means that the following conditions are expected to prevail for a period of 3 hours or longer:

    – Sustained wind or frequent gusts to 35 miles an hour or greater; and
    – Considerable falling and/or blowing snow (i.e., reducing visibility frequently to less than ΒΌ mile)

    —– end quote —–

    It doesn’t say anything about snowfall total, so (to my lay person’s eye) it looks like a “blizzard” could be based solely on wind velocity and reduced visibility due to blowing snow – even if the sky overhead were clear blue and not a single flake actually falling.

    Am I misunderstanding?

    I was wondering if maybe that’s why some of the NWS offices are using the “B”-word, not necessarily because there will be a lot of falling snow, but due to the wind causing blowing snow?

    Just wondering…

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