An active winter weather pattern has set up across the central and eastern US, which includes a plethora of cold air and the jet stream guiding some moisture packed storms. However, before you get the snow blower stationed outside your front door, here's an in-depth look at the next couple of storm systems that will be skating by the western Great Lakes.
Let's start with the storm for Thursday night into Friday morning. This system once again looks favorable to produce the heaviest snow across southern Wisconsin, while much of our area receives a glancing blow. The main factors for this outcome are the track of the low and the location of arctic high pressure in Ontario, Canada. A few wise professors I had back in college always began the discussion in advance of possible major winter storms with this, "predict the high, predict the storm". Taking that to heart, high pressure is forecast to be gliding from western Canada to just about due north of Wausau by about 500 miles Thursday night into Friday morning. With a set up like this, we have the battle of dry air playing out in our area. If this high were farther east, we'd be almost assured of less dry air being in place and a better shot at significant snow. Meantime, low pressure is on the fast track from eastern Colorado Thursday afternoon to just off the New England Coast by the afternoon Friday. A short duration snowfall (about 6 to 12 hours) and with the path going through central Illinois to the Ohio River Valley early Friday morning, we are on the northern edge of the snow.
Taking this into account, snowfall for Thursday night into Friday will be fairly light for Rhinelander, Phillips and Merrill with 1-3". For Wausau, Antigo and Stevens Point, snowfall totals creep up to the 3-5" range, with better odds for that higher end in Stevens Point. Wisconsin Rapids to Shawano, Wild Rose and Clintonville, appears to be in the 4-6" swath. Meantime, the brunt of the heavy snow hits to the south including LaCrosse, Madison, Oshkosh and Milwaukee with 6-10" a good bet.
After this system, our attention then turns to Saturday night into Sunday as another storm is anticipated to roll once again out from the central Plains and into the Great Lakes. There is still some disagreement between computer models, but there is the potential for somewhat higher amounts of snow in Central Wisconsin, particularly if low pressure curls up through Michigan into Lake Huron. However, if the low stays on a similar path to our first storm, we'll once again miss out on the most snow.
A couple things are for certain. First, we are going to stay cold right through Christmas, with temperatures running still a good 10 to 20 degrees below average. Secondly, a white Christmas is a lock, and odds are there will be occasional shots at snow and if we get enough, more snow mobile trails will be able to open before we wrap up 2008.
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