I know in my last blog, I made note of the fact that March is the start of meteorological spring. But as you all well know, the weather in Wisconsin does not always follow what the calendar says. With that in mind, the table has been set for another winter storm to affect the Wisconsin River Valley. Unlike our other big winter storm wallops, which hit when temperatures were running in the 10s or 20s, this go around we look to have readings running close to if not a bit above the freezing mark. For the casual observer at home, you might not think much of this, but it does make a difference in the consistency of the snow, meaning these flakes will be bigger and pack more moisture then the fluffy snowfalls of earlier in the winter. This wet snow is great for making snowmen and snowballs, but not so great on your back when it comes to shoveling. I won't quite put it into the category of heavy as wet cement, but I know some could go that direction after having to clean up from this storm.
Update 3/8/11 11am:
Well the latest computer guidance along with the center of low pressure being a bit farther south that earlier depicted means I am going to be lowering the snowfall totals for Wednesday. The snow is expected to still roll into the area toward morning on Wednesday, but it will be light to moderate at times through the day. It seems the heavier precipitation is being deflected to the thunderstorms that will be developing along the cold front through the plains into the Tennessee & Ohio River Valleys. Still a notable snowfall for our area, but not as big as earlier thought. That being said here's what I'm thinking with snowfall totals.
Northwoods (Rhinelander, Eagle River & Phillips): 2-4"
Central Wisconsin (Medford, Wausau, Antigo, Wis Rapids, Stevens Point): 3-6". Some areas could have somewhat higher amounts southeast of Wausau, but that is the exception to the rule to seems.
The graphic below could still work out, but the heavy snow area probably could be subtracted out.
Meantime, the first week & a half of March has been known to be the target time for heavy snowfall in Wausau. Check out these factoids...
I don't expect our storm on this March 9th to make it into the top 4 heaviest snowfalls, but I do want to remind you that the 13.5" on Dec. 11-12, 2010 and Feb 20-21, 2011 are tied for #5 on the list. So we've already had two major snowfalls this winter, and this could be the third. You may wonder, why all the heavy snow in March? Well this is a transitional time of the year with the jet stream shifting north, bring the storm track back into the northern tier of the country. At the same time, storm systems that come in from our southwest tend to pick up Gulf of Mexico moisture along the way. Thus they've got the potential to produce heavy precipitation. All we need in addition is cold enough air for snow to fall and the right storm track staying just far enough to our south and east. Of course back in the year 2000, we were basking in delightful spring weather with highs in the 50s, 60s and 70s, all of which were record highs. I don't expect us to have highs in that category for at least the next 2-3 weeks.
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