Potent Winter Storm Could Disrupt Travel Across Denver, Chicago
AccuWeather forecasters say a storm set to drop into California early this week will ultimately unleash multiple areas of hazardous weather for the nation’s midsection. This storm will become quite potent as it ejects out of the Rockies and into the Plains during the middle of the week with snow, heavy rain and severe weather all in the cards.
A more than 1,700-mile-long swath of the United States is forecast to encounter impacts from the cold, snowy side of the robust storm from Tuesday night to Thursday night. Major metros like Denver and Chicago will step into the ring this week for a bout with accumulating snow.
“Snow will begin across the Denver area Tuesday night and continue through the day on Wednesday,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Rob Richards said. “This is looking like a plowable snowfall for Denver and accumulations of up to half a foot could occur.”
Following double-digit snowfall totals for November and December, Denver has only recorded just over 1.7 inches of snow so far this month. The last time the city recorded more than 6 inches of snow from one event was back on Dec. 28 when totals across the metro ranged from 6-12 inches and led to widespread travel disruptions.
The late-December snow event brought motorists to a standstill in parts of the greater Denver area, with some travelers stranded on roadways for more than eight hours as heavy snow left roads impassable.
Anyone planning to travel when snow is in the forecast will want to have an emergency kit handy that includes essentials like snacks, water and blankets.
After tracking out of the Rockies Tuesday night, the storm will become even better organized on Wednesday as it moves through the central Plains.
“The snow will then streak out into Kansas, Nebraska and into the Great Lakes by later Wednesday into Thursday,” Richards explained.
At this time, the most likely area for these higher totals will stretch from near Denver, eastward across northern Kansas and southern Nebraska, into portions of southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. Even parts of western Michigan, like Grand Rapids, can encounter these higher totals.
Anyone with plans to travel along portions of interstates 29, 35, 39 70, 80 and 88 will want to keep a close eye on the forecast in the coming days.
Since the arrival and ultimate track of the storm is still several days out, AccuWeather forecasters are encouraging residents within the potential snow areas to prepare for impacts like travel disruptions, rather than focusing purely on exact snowfall amounts.
Slight variations in the overall track of the storm can result in significant differences in overall impacts for cities like Chicago where disruptive weather can occur Wednesday night into Thursday.
“While the track of this storm is not set in stone, our current thinking is that where there is steady snow that falls, which could be very near or over Chicago, it may be heavy and quite impactful,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Matt Benz cautioned.
A warmer and quicker-hitting storm in the Midwest early this week may be the key to how snow unfolds later this week.
“Monday’s storm may provide the roadmap for how the system later this week will evolve and ultimately track across the central U.S.,” Benz explained. “With the colder air shifting south into the Upper Midwest, the next storm later this week will likely take a more southerly track when compared to Monday’s storm.”
A track farther to the south typically gives a storm more of an opportunity to tap into colder air and produce more widespread snow.
As the storm tracks eastward on Thursday, snow and perhaps an icy mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain will push into parts of the interior Northeast. AccuWeather forecasters will continue to monitor the exact extent and timing of this precipitation in the coming days.
Produced in association with AccuWeather.