Midwest To Be Blanketed By Quick-hitting Snow
A fast-paced storm that will spawn severe weather across the southern United States will also have a snowy side as cold air clashes with the northern flank of the system. AccuWeather meteorologists say that although it is not foreseen to be a significant snowstorm, it could cause headaches for travelers and disruptions to the daily routines of millions of residents.
It has been a topsy-turvy start to February across the Midwest with temperatures dipping below zero across most of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and northern Illinois Friday, Feb. 3, followed up by high temperatures in the 40s and 50s just three days later.
Wintry weather will make a comeback during the latter part of the week as a gathering storm expands northward across the central U.S.
The duration of the snowfall will be less than 24 hours in many areas, but enough snow could still fall to be enough to plow from northern Missouri through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
“Snowfall rates can be intense, yielding dangerous travel,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Brandon Buckingham said.
Snow will begin to fall before sunrise Thursday in parts of Iowa and Wisconsin with the snow expanding northeastward throughout the day.
A widespread 3 to 6 inches of accumulation is likely from central Iowa into Michigan, with the biggest snowfall totals likely occurring in a small zone of central Wisconsin just north of Madison. This zone is the area most likely to receive an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 14 inches.
A sharp cutoff between all rain and several inches of snow is likely to set up near the border of Iowa and Illinois and across southern Wisconsin, with Madison situated close to the projected rain-snow boundary.
“Precipitation could start as plain rain early Thursday, but then as temperatures fall, rain can transition over to heavy snow briefly,” Buckingham explained. “In total, 1-3 inches of snow is expected in Madison, with a caveat that amounts could end up higher if rain transitions to snow faster than expected.”
The timing of the snow could create a sloppy commute Thursday evening across the city, as well as in Green Bay and La Crosse, Wisconsin.
Accumulating snow is unlikely to reach Minneapolis and Duluth, Minnesota, but residents could still see a few flurries or a brief snow shower late Thursday or the first part of Thursday night.
The swift motion of the storm will bring the end of the widespread snow across the region Thursday night, although some lake-effect snow showers could bring another inch or so of accumulation to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan Friday.
Farther south, mainly rain is in the offing for Chicago, but the storm could end as a few snowflakes.
Buckingham said that the best chance for snow in Chicago will be Thursday afternoon into Thursday evening, but little to no accumulation is expected. If snow does accumulate, it will likely be confined to elevated surfaces and grass.
As of Tuesday, Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport has measured 14.2 inches of snow so far this season, well below the normal of 23.8 inches that typically falls by Feb. 7. The snow deficit in the Windy City is certain to continue through the first half of February with few opportunities for meaningful snow accumulation in the short-term forecast.
The weather needle will swing back toward spring by the end of the weekend as milder air settles across the Midwest in the wake of the late-week storm. Temperatures Sunday could run around 10 degrees above normal, providing another spring preview for residents across the region.
Produced in association with AccuWeather.