Midwest to be blanketed by quick-hitting snow
A fast-paced storm that spawned severe weather across the Southeast 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 for a large area, it is still set to 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 over the next several days as a gathering storm expands northward across the central U.S.
A swath of heavy, wet snow positioned over the Kansas City area early Thursday morning. (AccuWeather)
Already, as an area of low pressure develops, cold rain has changed over to snow in some areas. Accumulation had already begun in Kansas City, with a burst of heavy, wet snow ongoing early Thursday morning.
The duration of the snowfall will be less than 24 hours in many areas, but enough snow to plow will still fall from northern and northwestern Missouri through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
"Snowfall rates can be intense, yielding dangerous travel," AccuWeather Meteorologist Brandon Buckingham said.
A widespread 3 to 6 inches of accumulation is likely from north-central Missouri into Michigan. A much narrower area, stretching from eastern Iowa into southern Wisconsin, may see totals over 6 inches. An AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 14 inches covers this zone.
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 far southern Wisconsin, with Madison, Wisconsin situated just above 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, 4-8 inches of snow can be expected in Madison."
The timing of the snow could create a slippery commute Thursday evening across the city, as well as in Green Bay and La Crosse, Wisconsin.
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.
Winds will kick up south and east of the track of the storm. Gusts of 40, 50 and 60 mph will occur even outside of showers and thunderstorms.
An AccuWeather Local StormMax™ wind gust of 70 mph is possible, especially around the lower Great Lakes and over the ridges of the Appalachians.
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.
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