Potential Freezing Rain in Appalachian Region?

This bears watching. The latest computer-generated forecasts are indicating a significant probability of a tenth of an inch or more of freezing rain (glaze ice) in the Appalachian region.

The forecast below is valid from 7pm Sunday until 7pm Monday:

Click to enlarge.

And, the next forecast is valid from 7pm Monday until 7pm Tuesday:

Keep in mind both of the above maps are predicting the probability of freezing rain (scale at left on each map).

If you live in these areas, please keep up on the weather as this weather system approaches

Also, more Lake Effect Snow is likely. AccuWeather has details.

Update on Major Winter Storm

AccuWeather radar at 5:45pm. Click to enlarge. 

The ice storm continues along Interstate 70 from St. Louis through Indianapolis to Columbus and will move into western Pennsylvania shortly.

Blizzard continues continue from Kansas City to Chicago and Milwaukee to Lansing. Moderate to heavy snow will move into Flint and Detroit shortly. Interstates 70 in central Missouri and 44 and 40 in Oklahoma are still closed.

UPDATE 7:30pm: Livingston, IL reports wind gusts to 58 mph driving the snow. Now that it is dark, do not try to drive in these areas!

The tornado watch continues until 8pm Central.

Updated Forecasts and Warnings

A tornado watch has been extended farther east:

Here are the latest winter storm warnings:

Orange = blizzard warnings; deep purple = ice storm warning;
pink = winter storm warning

Philadelphia and the northern and western suburbs of NYC are now in ice storm warnings. An ice storm warning is issued when major issues such as power failures are expected.

The blizzard warning has been extended across northern Indiana and southern Lower Michigan including Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint, and Ann Arbor. The moderate to heavy snow has begun in Chicago.

AccuWeather radar at 2:55pm Tuesday. Click to enlarge.

The heaviest snows now extend from Topeka and Kansas City ENE to Springfield, IL and into the southern suburbs of Chicago.

1pm Storm Update

In St. Louis, the freezing rain and sleet are ending and heavy snow with blizzard conditions are moving in for this afternoon and evening:

12:45pm AccuWeather radar

The ice storm is the purple area into south central Missouri and east northeast along and south of Interstate 70.

Here is an overall view of the storm. The blizzard is about to move into Chicago.

UPDATE 1:30pm. Interstate 70 closed in central Missouri. 

The tornado watch continues until 3pm. Severe thunderstorms will spread east as the afternoon progresses (see AccuWeather forecast below).

Storm Status Update 10:55am

Here is an update on the blizzard and ice storm. The purple indicates freezing rain and sleet. 
AccuWeather radar at 10:45am:
The photos below were taken just east of the “X” on the radar map. 

As expected, both Interstates 40 and 44 in Oklahoma are closed. The official measuring station in Tulsa has 15″ and still snowing with blizzard conditions. There are multiple reports of cars stranded on the interstates and stuck cars plugging the roads in Tulsa.

Blowing snow this morning:

In these very high winds, the worst road conditions are under underpasses. I passed two with drifts of at least 2.5 ft.

Here are road conditions just west of the Andover, Kansas, exit on Interstate 35:

The forecast below still looks good.

Forecast for the Rest of the Storm

Here are the current warnings:

Red = tornado (Louisiana), orange = blizzard, pink = winter storm. This will be a historic blizzard from at least Missouri to Illinois. States of emergency have been issued in Oklahoma, Missouri, and the eastern half of Kansas.

This forecast begins at 12 noon Central today.  Heaviest snow in the darker colors. Chicago will be severely affected with more than 20″ of snow.

Here is the probability of 12″ or more of snow the next 24 hours. Red = 90%!

Farther south, the ice storm will continue. Interstate 74 is closed in both directions in Indiana due to a major traffic accident involving a state trooper.

These are the probabilities of 0.25″or more of glaze ice through 6am Wednesday.

Ice storm probabilities 6am Wednesday to 6am Thursday, including the lower Hudson Valley with more than 70% probabilities into NW New Jersey and adjacent areas of Pennsylvania.

The winds will cause severe drifting of the snow and will serve to bring down power lines in the ice storm areas:

and the wind chills will threaten the life of anyone stuck outdoors in the storm.

Currently, at my home in northeast Wichita, the temperature is 3°F with an AccuWeather Real Feel® temperature of -32°F!

There is a tornado and severe thunderstorm threat:

What a storm!

The Status of the Storm

Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport (DFW) was closed at 7am due to the ice and snow. It is not known when it will reopen:

1300 = Greenwich Mean Time = 7am Central Standard Time
UPDATE: 10:45am. DFW is now open. Dallas Love is now closed.

Strong thunderstorms in the South Central States:

AccuWeather lightning map from 7:40am. White = most recent strikes, red =  strikes
an hour ago. Note the lightning detected around
 Tulsa where they have had heavy “thundersnow”
Intense thunderstorms have developed in the lower Mississippi Valley (see radar below). There is a tornado threat in that area as the day progresses.

Chicago already reports 2-3″ and the main storm has not yet arrived.

Radar from 7:40am, click to enlarge
Blue is snow with darker blue = heavier snow.  Moderate to heavy snow falling in Kansas City, roads reportedly getting bad. Heaviest extends from Rolla, MO and the Lake of the Ozarks down to Tulsa.
The red circle indicates the low pressure system in the southeast Texas Panhandle. The low is moving east northeast. 
Major weather delays at Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, and San Francisco airports due to weather.
Snow and sleet falling in D-FW. Photo by Janice Bunting. 
An interesting point:  There are a  number of weather stations in the area that received freezing rain yesterday and overnight that are reporting wind speeds too low due to icing on the instrument.

These radar and lightning maps are available at AccuWeather by clicking here

Extra Update 9:45pm

National Weather Service servers still having problems, so I’m doing this additional update.

Midwest Ice Storm

Radar at 9:20pm CST, click to enlarge this or any graphic

West Lafayette, IN has 1.5″ of new snow, blue colors on the radar = snow. A mix of freezing rain and sleet are falling in the purple areas including Indianapolis, Dayton, and Columbus. The icing will increase during the night.  Serious power failures are quite likely in these areas. ADDITION 10:15pm, Power is out in the Terre Haute, IN area.

Oklahoma Ice 

Radar at 9:33pm

This is a large area of moderate to heavy rain with a few flashes of lightning. Current temperature in Oklahoma City is 25°, so this will cause icing before it changes over to snow. Very heavy snow is quite possible in Oklahoma and into Missouri more or less along I-44. Travel conditions will be nearly impossible in the blizzard area. ADDITION: Tulsa NWS just issued a forecast that power failures may occur from Muskogee through NW Arkansas including Bentonville and Fayetteville.

Everything else is unchanged.

The Rest of the Night

Bloggers are coached never to tell their readers when you are signing off. It supposedly “keeps you coming back.” Kim and I respect your time, so here is the plan: This has been a very long day (been up since 3:30am), so this will be my last weather posting of the night. I have several other posts that I think you will enjoy during the pre-dawn hours. I had to push them back because of all of the weather blogging.

In the meantime, my friends and colleagues at AccuWeather will take great care of you for updated weather information.

See you tomorrow.


8:10pm Storm Update

Here is an ice storm map generated by Jesse Ferrell at AccuWeather

click to enlarge map

The small numbers are the amounts of freezing rain in inches and tenths. St. Louis is right on the 1″ line and Indianapolis is predicted to have nearly 1.1 inches. Combined with wind, this would lead to multi-day power outages.

The National Weather Service advisories and warnings are unchanged from the last update. A lot has changed on the radar in two hours. Here is the 8pm radar from AccuWeather:

Thunderstorms have developed from Abilene, TX into southwest Oklahoma. These will spread north northeast during the night and change to into snow-producers after midnight.

The snow has increased in the Texas Panhandle.  Snow is just developing in southern Kansas (it is snowing in Wichita) and northwest Oklahoma.

The bottom line: The forecasts you read below are still valid.

6pm Update

The initial storm shown on AccuWeather radar at 5:55pm.

Blue = snow, darker is heavier snow.
Purple is freezing rain, darker is heavier.

There are confirmed reports of 0.10 to 0.15″ accumulations of glaze ice in eastern Missouri into much of central Illinois. Indianapolis now reporting icy streets. Travel conditions in these areas are deteriorating rapidly with darkness and falling temperatures.  Ground stop in place for the Minneapolis airport, numerous flights delayed.

This is the main part of the storm getting better organized. Thunderstorms are developing west of Ft. Worth.

Here it Comes!

The winter storm warnings are now in effect for Dallas-Ft. Worth all the way through Pittsburgh and Philadelphia through Albany and Boston. Airlines are canceling flights by the score. If you had plans to travel, please check the Airline Crisis Survival Guide.

Here is the map of winter weather warnings.

Map updated 4:35pm. Orange = blizzard warning.
Pink = winter storm warning. 

Here is AccuWeather’s snow forecast map. The red areas are areas where ice is forecast to accumulate. Note: Some snow will fall on top of the ice in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area.

Serious icing is expected in the St. Louis and Indianapolis metropolitan areas which will likely extend east across Ohio and into Pennsylvania.

From around Detroit to Kansas City to Wichita, strong winds will cause major drifting and whiteout driving conditions. Here is an AccuWeather map of forecast peak winds:

Highest winds in Missouri and Illinois will be more than 40 mph
causing serious power problems in the ice storm
areas and drifting the snow with blizzard conditions.

Finally, the wind chills will be brutal and life-threatening should you get stuck driving.  Here is AccuWeather’s wind chill map for Tuesday:

Purple colors are wind chills colder than zero degrees.
Winds chills colder than -20°F will be common from
Kansas north to the Canadian border. 

If you are in the affected areas, please take this storm seriously!

It Begins

Here is the AccuWeather Radar from 3:05pm Central time:

Blue shades = snow, darker shades are heavier snow. Purples and maroons
are freezing rain and sleet.

Minneapolis has one hour flight delays.  The ice storm has begun from the Lake of the Ozarks through St. Louis and into east central Illinois. The NWS in Indianapolis is warning of a “catastrophic” ice storm.  I expect flight delays to begin at the Chicago airports in a few hours as the snow moves in from the southwest.

Meanwhile, to the southwest, the main winter storm has just begun to get underway:

Winter storm warnings are now in effect in a continuous band from New Mexico to Vermont. I’ll have a full update in about an hour.

10:30am Winter Storm Update

The huge winter storm is still just about as forecast yesterday. As you view the forecast, please focus on the general pattern and not the small “squiggles” in lines and amounts.

Let’s begin with the ice storm. The first map is storm total ice accumulation:

Darker shades of purple = heavier accumulations of glaze ice.

We already have roads that are slick in spots in eastern Kansas and northwest Missouri due to freezing drizzle. The significant freezing rain will be tonight in Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas then spread east.

The snowfall map is below. Blizzard conditions are likely in many areas.

The heavy snow will begin in Oklahoma tomorrow and then spread east northeastward. The predicted areas of heaviest snows shifted just a bit from last night. I am very concerned about traffic on Interstate 44 tomorrow as the snow will fall very quickly and may be on top of glaze ice. This could be a real mess as will Interstate 70 later and then the central and northern Illinois interstates all the way to I-64 to Indianapolis by Wednesday morning.

How much of a gambler are you? This is a map of the probabilities of 8 inches or more of snow from 6am Tuesday until 6am Wednesday (note, probabilities go up in the eastern part of this area during the day Wednesday.

Probability of eight inches or more. Blue 10%, green, 40%,
and red 70% chance. 

10:45pm Sunday Winter Storm Update

This is what it actually looks like (the car in front of me has its lights on) to
drive in a whiteout. Don’t do it! Whiteout conditions
are possible in many areas with this storm.

Things look pretty much on track tonight. Here is a forecast of snow depths from now through Thursday morning. It is important that you not focus on every squiggle and realize that amounts could easily be an inch or two on either side of the depicted values.

I still expect blizzard warnings (farther east, watches) to be issued for much of the dark blue-pink-red-gray colored areas with winds gusting above 40 mph and some gusts above 50 mph causing severe blowing and drifting. Remember, the major snow starts in the southern Plains late Monday night and Tuesday and will spread east from there.

With regard to ice, here is the latest. Again, do not focus on exact details, please focus on the overall pattern.

Darker colors = more glaze ice accumulation.

I believe this will be a major ice storm, especially from Missouri to central Ohio with widespread and possibly long-lived power outages.  If you are in these areas, please prepare for the possibility of several days without power in very cold weather!

Outside of the northern Plains where a separate storm will cause 1 to 3″ amounts tonight through Monday, many areas will have tomorrow to prepare for the storm. 

This is going to be my last update on the storm until midday Monday. AccuWeather will continue to update later tonight and Monday morning.

Between now and then, we’ll have a number of interesting posts, including one for your student interested in a career in meteorology.

Winter Storm Update, 6:36 pm CST Sunday

The National Weather Service in Oklahoma City calls the storm,


The National Weather Service in Chicago says,

Notice a common theme? That theme applies to everywhere in-between that will be affected by this storm.
Below is a map of current winter weather advisories as of 4:06 5:36pm CST Sunday. The winter weather warnings are for snow except for the areas where freezing rain (glaze ice) is indicated (see below).  I expect a number of these to be upgraded to blizzard warnings tomorrow for the storm which will begin late Monday night and Tuesday in the Plains then spread east.  
Light green, blizzard watch; pink, winter storm warning; purple, winter weather advisory
(less serious than a watch or warning); hunter green = winter storm watch.

Here is AccuWeather’s 48-hour ice storm forecast:

The darker pinks and purples = more ice. St. Louis, Indianapolis
and Dayton are at risk for an ice storm. This may extend
well into Pennsylvania at midweek. 

This storm is so vast that, by the time it exits into the Atlantic, AccuWeather’s Alex Sosnowski estimates that 100,000,000 people will be affected. AccuWeather will have the earliest updates tomorrow morning!

There was a horrible blizzard in 1888 in the northern High Plains known as The Children’s Blizzard. Here is how Wikipedia describes it:

What made the storm so deadly was the timing (during work and school hours), the suddenness, and the brief spell of warmer weather that preceded it. In addition, the very strong wind fields behind the cold front and the powdery nature of the snow reduced visibilities on the open plains to zero. People ventured from the safety of their homes to do chores, go to town, attend school, or simply enjoy the relative warmth of the day. As a result, thousands of people—including a significant number of schoolchildren—got caught in the blizzard. The death toll was 235. Travel was severely impeded in the days following.

We have a sophisticated warning system now. Don’t let the very mild weather (central and southern Plains) of the last few days fool you. While we don’t have every detail as to locations and amounts nailed down yet, this will be a huge winter storm. Prepare accordingly.

And, if you are outside of the affected areas, do not try to travel by air or by auto into them. This is one of those cases where you could be stuck at the airport for days. If you already have tickets, follow the steps in the Airline Crisis Survival Guide. Update at 5:36pm Sunday, airline waivers have been issued for Chicago (here’s United’s) and more will likely be issued in the morning.

Pending Blizzard and Ice Storm

Here is a map of the probability of 2″ or more from now until 6am CST Monday:

Two low pressure systems will combine to produce ice storm, heavy snow, and blizzard conditions starting tomorrow and lasting into Thursday in the Northeast. This one looks like a very big deal!

Wind gusts of 40 to 50 mph are likely in the heavy snow region causing blizzard conditions.

Four inches or more of snow = “heavy snow’
Map from: accuweather.com

With regard to the ice storm, wind gusts of 40 mph will cause power and tree problems. Preliminarily, the heaviest ice may fall in a 50-mile or so band centered around Coffeyville, KS to St. Louis to Indianapolis. Some of those areas may have heavy snow on top of the ice.

I expect to post more information on this storm late this afternoon or this evening. The low pressure system in the upper atmosphere is now inland and will be better sampled so the forecasts can be more specific.

A suggestion: If you are in the ice storm area, it can’t help to be prepared. Fill you gas tank (filling station pumps run on electricity), have fuel for your generator (if you have one), go to the grocery store, etc. If this forecast is correct there will be multi-day power outages in some areas. 

If you are in the heavy snow area, a trip to Lowe’s might be in order if you need a snow shovel, snow blower, ice melt, etc. Beat the crowd!  If the forecast is wrong, you’ll have it for next time since there is a lot of winter yet.

Noon Update: The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard watch for Chicago. The airline hub at Detroit will also be affected by the storm. Be proactive! Here is the Airline Crisis Survival Guide.