It seems like we typically get some fairly active winter weather during the first half of December and this go around is no different. Let's go in-depth on the Monday night and Tuesday storm that will roll through the region and then take a sneak peak at what's in the works later in the week. During this past weekend, I was keeping a close eye on the potential future track of low pressure that was pushing into the desert southwest and wondering if the jet stream would dip far enough to the south to guide this storm in our direction. Sure enough, that scenario will play out, however there are always a few outliers in the computer models that can have an impact on how much snow falls. For starters, most of the computer guidance is in agreement with moderate to heavy snow falling overnight through the morning hours on Tuesday in our area as low pressure heads up through Missouri, Illinois and eventually lower Michigan Tuesday afternoon. However, there is always that chance that some dry air sneaks into the picture and stalls out the moisture some, only allowing for light snow, or off and on periods of moderate to heavy snow. On the other hand, an axis of heavier precipitation may set up farther north or south than what is being painted by the weather models, thus causing a shift in what the snow tallys will be.
So we've covered chances of dry air causing lighter snow, the establishment of the deformation zone of heaviest precipitation, but of course the track of the low and temperatures also play a big roll. The main reason the amounts of snow expected had increased in such a short span of time is the low is taking a more northwesterly path than had been projected this past weekend. Of course, the farther northwest it travels, the better odds that warmer air works into areas just to the north and east of the track of the low. That's why we have situations where snow falls initially, followed by a wintry mix of sleet and freezing rain, which if the low does travel to our west, then turns over to plain old rain. The way things look, we should stay snow in most of the region. The exception to this will be in the far south across parts of Juneau, Adams and maybe even Waushara Counties, where some sleet could accompany the snow. If this happens, snow totals could really be cut down. Southern and southeastern Wisconsin will likely have a mix and even some rain Monday night into Tuesday morning, before cold enough air wraps back in, finishing off as a period of moderate to heavy snow.
In general our first significant accumulations look like a good bet by Tuesday morning with 3 to 5 inches in Rhinelander, Phillips and Eagle River, at least 6 inches in Wausau, Antigo, and Shawano, while anywhere from 6 to 10" is not out of the question in Stevens Point, Wisconsin Rapids, and Waupaca. Safe to say, travel will be hazardous if not extremely difficult through Tuesday morning, until the road crews can start to clean things up. In the wake of this storm, winds will be blustery Tuesday afternoon and evening, diminishing into Wednesday as high pressure briefly passes through. Upper level winds will continue to push clipper type systems out of Canada through the western Great Lakes for the second half of the week with snow showers and flurries anticipated. The one change from earlier is the true arctic air may remain bottled up to the north, so afternoon readings in the 20s and even 30s could be in the offing later this week.
Update: Tuesday 12/9--Well as mentioned above, there is always a possibility for drier air to work in on the northern edge of a snow storm, and it appears that happened for us in Wausau. There was a late adjustment with the amount of snow that could fall with this system in the model data during the evening on Monday, which if I was forecasting for the 10pm show, probably would have brought down the range for Wausau from 5 to 8 to 3 to 6. Looks like in Wausau about 3.5 to 4" fell. So off by about an inch in my forecast range on the low end, however the heaviest snow did fall to the south of town in Stevens Pt, Adams-Friendship and Coloma where the totals were in the 6-10" range. Either way, the most snow for a good portion of the area from a single storm so far this season.
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