For the past few days the models have been suggesting the potential for a freezing rain event across some part of the central Midwest late in the coming weekend. The energy that will drive the system is is still well off the west coast but confidence is increasing that ice is going to be a factor somewhere. The question now is where and how much? On the graphic below you can see the active fire-hose Pacific jet that will deliver the energy.
Aside from the energy, the jet will force warm air aloft to overide cold air entrenched at the surface. It’s this temperature inversion that creates the threat of ice.
On the graphic you can see the 500mb jet stream flow that pulls the moisture and warm air aloft that will fuel the storm over the weekend.
In my region what icing occures is expected Sunday night. Here’s the surface depiction at 6:00pm Sunday evening. You can see the areas of ice in the pink colors.
In my area it appears the ice potential is greatest along or north of HWY 30. The GFS shows 1/4″ to 1/3″ accumulations in that area. Higher amounts are found in western Iowa and some parts of Kansas and Missouri.
The EURO is a little lighter on accumulations but still focused in the same general area.
It’s my thinking right now that the icing will cause some problems Sunday night but they should be relatively short in duration as surface temperatures continue to warm as the storm tracks toward Iowa. By late Sunday night or early Monday temperatures will go above freezing and that will take care of any residual issues in short order. In fact, look at the highs the EURO has on Monday. The freezing line is all the way into Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The system will produce some snow but due to the limited cold air aloft the majority of it comes on the far northwestern flank of the storm where the cold is deeper. The GFS has this for total snowfall.
It has this for total precipitation,,,,ice, rain, and snow combined.
I do want to stress this is a very difficult and challenging forecast for the models as well as me. A degree or two could make a very significant difference in the outcome for any specific location. Hopefully models will converge on similar paths and thermal solutions in the next 24-48 hours. It’s certainly a forecast worth watching but at this time I think the impacts will be short in duration and manageable in much of my area! Roll weather…TS
Terry Swails has been a television meteorologist in the Midwest since early 1977. He began his broadcasting career at KWWL-TV and has also been employed by KDUB-TV, KWQC-TV, and WQAD-TV, where he has been the prime time meteorologist for the last 5 years.
A popular fixture in Quad Cities television since 1986, Terry's passion and commitment to weather is well known. Aside from his television duties, He produces forecasts for the Quad City Times, a number of Quad City radio stations, and does work as a private consultant.
An avid storm chaser, Terry spent a week with legendary forecaster Tom Skilling in search of tornadoes in 2010. They saw their first tornado together (a violent multi vortex EF3) outside Wakita, Oklahoma. Terry and well known storm chaser Jim Reed also watched the eye of Hurricane Irene go directly overhead on the shores of Coney, Island in 2011.
With his vast knowledge of weather and unique perspective, Terry is also the author of several books. His first Superstorms was completed in 2005. He followed that up with Un-Natural disasters in 2008, and All I want to for Christmas is to see a Tornado in 2011. Terry collaborated with his wife Carolyn Wettstone on the last 2 books and has utilized her experience as a writer and former television anchor in a number of weather related projects.
Terry says he hasn't met a storm he didn't like. Tornadoes and snowstorms are his bread and butter and predicting the atmosphere is a challenge that never gets old.
Terry says this web site is a compilation of his life long love affair with weather. He points out "I put everything I would want as a meteorologist into the site. It's fun, informative, and even educational." He also adds, "I hope you find it enjoyable as well!"
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