Major Winter Storm to Affect Central U.S.

A winter storm watch is in effect for the entire shaded region (pale blue is also a wind chill advisory).

Looks like the shaded area north of I-70 is going to get very heavy snow. Along and south of U.S. in Missouri and Kansas, some ice could be mixed in. Let's break it down.

Freezing Rain
There is a 70% chance of one tenth of an inch of freezing rain along the Kansas-Oklahoma border. Those probabilities rise to 90% in northern Arkansas. Elevated freezing rain probabilities extend into southern Ohio. All maps valid from 6am Wednesday to 6am Friday.

This map shows a small dot of 60% probabilities of a half inch of freezing rain. This looks just a little too far southeast to me but regardless of of the exactly location, this is enough to cause power failures and other serious problems. From southeast Kansas to the Ozarks region, I'd consider the following precautions:
  • Complete travel before the freezing rain begins
  • Go to the ATM and get cash before any power failures
  • Make sure you have essential foods and medicines, refill prescriptions
  • Get your generator ready or at least get a power inverter for your car that can charge your cell phone, computer and, if you need chilled medicine (i.e., insulin) a small refrigerator


This giant area with a 95% probability of two inches or more is one of the largest I have seen since the NWS began producing this product. 

The 95% area is of a foot or more. As far south as Great Bend, KS and as far east as Omaha there is an 80% chance. 

The 30% (dark green) area is for 18" or more!

Note: Winds will be moderate in the snow area (i.e., sustained winds 12-25 mph) which will cause drifting but -- while the snow will be very heavy in some places -- I do not believe this will reach official blizzard criteria. That said, travel will be impossible or nearly impossible in the heaviest snow areas which include I-80 and U.S. 81. Interstate 29 will be affected in the latter part of the period. Please plan to complete travel before the heavy snow begins. 

And, Now The Best News:
Desperately-needed moisture in the drought area. Snow cover for the winter wheat and spring crop areas will slightly dent the drought. The bad news is the more than six inches over parts of the Southeast which brings the threat of flooding.


  1. The 2" or more probability map is even showing high (>80%) chances of that snow along the Front Range, which is currently not being forecasted by NWS Denver. Interesting.

    I would *not* want to be on I-70 in Kansas tomorrow. I-80 is somewhat sheltered from Ogallala to Grand Island as it follows the South Platte then Platte, but sounds like it's going to be nasty there too. Not sure if readers in other parts of the country fully understand the topography of I-70 through Kansas and eastern Colorado - from about Topeka to Denver, there's NOTHING to stop the wind. 20mph wind plus snow = can't see a damn thing.

  2. @Brian: Your points are very well taken. That is why I put the travel caution in bold. I full expect to see I-70 closed based on our latest forecast.

    READERS: Latest thinking is the snow area will be a little farther south (30-50 miles) than depicted above. I'll be updating the blog later this afternoon and continuing coverage on this storm.


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