Massive Storm To Deliver Heavy Snow, Strong Storms To Central US
Punxsutawney Phil’s prognostication at the beginning of February that declared six more weeks of winter continues to ring true across the north-central United States where residents are bracing for yet another snowstorm later this week. AccuWeather meteorologists say the impending storm will unleash both wintry and severe weather hazards across the nation’s midsection.
Following a batch of light snow sweeping across the northern Plains into Wednesday, a broader swath of snow will accompany the late-week storm across the Central states. A blockbuster snowstorm is not anticipated, but enough snow to cause travel troubles on the road and in the air is expected.
Over half a foot of snow is expected over a large area from northeastern Wyoming through southern Wisconsin. The highest snowfall totals are likely to occur in South Dakota, where an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 24 inches is possible.
AccuWeather forecasters are zeroing in on a zone from western South Dakota through portions of northern Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Lower Peninsula of Michigan as the areas most likely to pick up the heaviest accumulations with this storm.
If the storm tracks farther south, higher snowfall totals are likely across Nebraska, central Iowa and northern Illinois. This area includes hundreds of miles of Interstate 80.
Residents of Chicago and Detroit will want to monitor the forecast closely since the track of the storm will be key in determining whether these cities pick up a few inches of accumulation or more substantial snow amounts.
“In both Chicago and Detroit, if little or no sleet and rain mixes in, there is the potential for a heavy accumulation of snow from Thursday night to Friday evening,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said. “It may come down to a couple of degrees in temperature a few thousand feet above the ground as to whether the storm brings a plowable storm or a couple of inches of slush that mostly melts off on its own.”
If precipitation falls mainly as snow, significant disruptions are possible at the major travel hubs for the Friday morning commute. Flight delays and cancellations at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport or Detroit Metropolitan Airport could have a ripple effect at airports across the country.
People who plan to travel along stretches of interstates 29, 35, 80, 90 and 94 later this week should also anticipate slower travel conditions with the risk of running into sections of roadway that are slippery and snow-covered.
Since Oct. 1, 2022, Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport has measured 74.5 inches of snow. With more snow on the way, this winter may soon overtake the winter of 2017-2018 as the 10th snowiest season on record. During that winter five years ago, the airport measured 78.3 inches of snow. However, there is still a long way to go before Minneapolis nears the record for the snowiest winter in the city’s history, a record set in the winter of 1983-1984 when 98.6 inches of snow accumulated.
The snow in the offing for the northern Plains and Midwest is only one side of the massive storm that will track across the central U.S. during the second half of the week.
“Warmer conditions on the southern side of the storm will keep states from Texas to Tennessee from experiencing snow. However, the storm could still bring impactful weather,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Courtney Travis said.
AccuWeather meteorologists are most concerned about the zone from near Dallas to Little Rock, Arkansas; Nashville, Tennessee; and Atlanta, where at least two rounds of downpours through the end of the week can raise flash flood concerns.
Although motorists in this zone will not have to contend with snowy driving conditions, reduced visibility and a heightened risk of hydroplaning while traveling at highway speeds will be hazards to consider in this corridor.
“Widespread rainfall amounts of 1-2 inches are possible in this zone, but it’s not out of the question that a few isolated locations could report more like 3 or 4 inches by Friday,” Travis said.
Some areas in this corridor have already picked up 3-5 inches of rain over the past week, further heightening the risk of flash flooding as a result of the saturated ground.
Thunderstorms could turn feisty during a few days of the wet pattern, but a severe weather outbreak is not anticipated.
Still, residents across a portion of the southern Plains should be wary of the potential for storms capable of packing a punch in terms of wind, rain and hail through midweek.
Produced in association with AccuWeather