Should You Be Freaking Out Over The Big Snow Potential?


Caution is always best when it comes to forecasting major winter storms about a week out.

As much as I would love to see one significant winter storm before the season is over, from my experience in forecasting, it seems that most people remember the first numbers that a forecaster throws out.  When that number is some astronomical amount, two things happen:  people panic or when the forecast snow totals melt away to much lower numbers, people get agitated that they were led on thinking this was going to be that “huge” event.

Thursday’s upcoming snow falls into that category.  While the potential is/was there for a huge amount of snow, it’s still more than five days out and as anyone knows, forecaster or not, things changed quickly as the storm draws closer.

Here’s my Sunday morning thinking (and it doesn’t deviate too much from what I said yesterday, which you can see below):  A decent snow accumulation is expected Thursday and early Thursday night across eastern Iowa and northern Illinois.  While we’re still four days out, it appears that we’ll all see at least four inches of snow.  Once newer data comes in and the window to the storm narrows, the forecast amounts will be fine tuned and pinpointed to specific areas.

Here’s the map for Thursday afternoon (3 p.m.) showing us snowed in.  The heaviest is in the darkest green and blue.

With each updated model run, the low pressure system (the storm) continues to be depicted more to the northwest.  This would pull slightly milder air in here by Friday morning bringing an end to the heavier snow with some flurries or drizzle.  This map is Friday at 9 a.m.

Again, there are still many things that can happen with this storm and by early this upcoming week, we’ll have a much better and more accurate analysis of Thursday’s snow.



Quad City friends, some of you have been asking about this “big” snowstorm on the way for Thursday and Friday.  The bottom line is that there is the potential for a huge snow SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDWEST during that time period.  It could be over us or it could be northwest of us.

Saturday Morning in the QC

First off, we need to enjoy the beautiful weekend we have now.  Highs in the 20s today and in the 30s to near 40° Sunday sound pretty good to me.  Rain is likely Monday, Presidents’ Day, and it could change to a light accumulation of snow Monday night.  Okay, enough stalling, what about late next week?

Simply put, for right now, just keep the threat of a snowstorm in your mind, but don’t panic just yet!  We still have a long way to go before the pieces of this puzzle fall perfectly into place.

For example, the American (NOAA) models update four times a day and we’re likely to get four slightly different forecasts each time.  Looking at the 12z (6am) GFS model, there will be a heavy snow set-up somewhere in the Midwest beginning midday Thursday into Thursday night.

This first map is for noon Thursday. It show the storm coming out of the southern Plains.  That is where many of our biggest snowstorms originate.  As of this morning, it looks like the Thursday morning commute will be snow-free with snow developing by midday or early afternoon.

Snow will become heavier by evening and Thursday night.

However, this second map, at 9 a.m. Friday, indicates that the storm would track right over the Quad Cities.  If that’s the case, the heaviest snow would be northwest of the metro area.  The heaviest snow typically tracks north and west of the low-pressure system.

This scenario would also begin pulling in some warmer air at the surface and aloft.  That means we’d have to introduce the possibility of some freezing rain, freezing drizzle, drizzle, or rain to the forecast.

It’s almost midday Saturday and what you need to know now is that we could be seeing the biggest snow of the winter season Thursday and Friday.  That’s a reality.

But, the other reality is that the storm track could veer more to the north and if that happens, we could be talking about a cold, heavy rain event somewhere nearby and a significant winter storm just a couple hundred miles to the northwest of that.

Simply put, it’s too early in the game to say if that heavy snow will be over eastern Iowa and northern Illinois or if it’ll be over Minnesota and northwestern Iowa!

Seriously, don’t worry five days out and save that for Tuesday or Wednesday when things will be much clearer. Stay tuned!

Enjoy your weekend and wait for the updates. 🙂


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by robin on February 17, 2013 at 7:48 am

    Thank-you. 🙂 Anthony.


  2. Posted by Cinchy on February 17, 2013 at 9:28 am

    4 inches of snow is good enough for me 🙂


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