I know...I know...it is the 2nd half of April and we should be done with worrying about snowfall in North Central Wisconsin. Then again, this past weekend some spots picked up as much as 3" of wet snow from low pressure tracking through the western Great Lakes to our south. Well the jet stream has adjusted a bit since then, but we are still in the target area for precipitation to once again overspread much of the region starting Tuesday afternoon and continuing into the morning on Wednesday.
Let's get down the details. Low pressure traversing through the southern Rockies on Monday afternoon will slide into the Texas/Oklahoma panhandle Monday Night. This is typically where we get the development of Panhandle Hook storms during the winter months that bring sizable snow to our region. But it is April. We don't have frigid air in place across the area, but we do have some cool air around. Highs on Monday reached the mid to upper 40s, which are a solid 10 degrees below average for this time of the year. There is also an area of high pressure sitting to our north in southern Ontario, Canada that will play a role in the track of this low heading through Wednesday. With that said, it also has been pushing "dry air" into the Wisconsin River Valley, driving dew point values down into the mid to upper teens. A side note, when precipitation falls, it tends to drive the air temperature down closer to the dew point. This happened with the wet snow we experienced over the weekend when temps were in the 30s and dew points running in the mid to upper 20s. If the dew point is below freezing, odds are favorable for the flakes or a mix of precipitation to fall.
So then it comes down to where the storm is heading. Most of the weather models are taking this low through Missouri into northern Illinois by Wednesday morning, then either pushing it east toward Detroit or north into western lower Michigan. If it takes a more northerly or westerly track, then we would be in prime territory for the most precipitation to fall. More to the south or east and we are seeing some locations in the north on the fringe of the snow, while others are getting moderate to heavy snow or mixed precipitation.
Last but not least, this time of the year you've got to consider severe storms and how they could literally suck away some of the moisture and energy from the precipitation to the north and west of the center of low pressure. There is a good risk of severe weather on Tuesday into Tuesday night from Indiana southwest into northeast Texas. I don't think we'll dodge the precipitation from this storm, but I don't believe we are going to see thundersnow with this storm...three instances in one winter would be very rare. Of course you could say the same about getting one bout of thundersnow in a winter. Before this winter, I don't recall it happening more than once every 3-4 years in our area.
Now that I've covered some of the variables in play, now it comes down to what are we going to see in regards to this storm.
- Wet snow or a mix of rain/sleet/snow will breakout from south to north in the area starting late Tuesday morning into the afternoon. By sunset, a slushy inch or so could be on the ground in parts of the viewing area. Most roads will probably be wet, with a white covering on the grass & elevated surfaces (ramps, bridges, overpasses, rooftops).
-Mainly snow, moderate to heavy times is in the works for Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. Maybe a bit of sleet could mix in the southern parts of our area. With it being at night, if the snow is falling heavy enough, it is going to pile up on area roadways. That said, the snowfall ratios with this storm are in the ballpark of 5:1 to 8:1. In other words, a 5:1 ratio would mean .20" of liquid would equal 1" of snow, while 8:1 we're talking .20" of liquid is 1.6".
Snowfall accumulations look to be the highest in the southern part of the area with 5-8" in Wisconsin Rapids, Stevens Point, Clintonville and Necedah; 3-6" in Medford, Wausau, Merrill and Antigo; 1-3" farther north into Rhinelander, Eagle River and Phillips.
-On Wednesday, the storm will be pulling away to the northeast and there will likely be some wrap around snow showers still falling in the region through late morning into the midday hours. Since this shouldn't be as heavy, I'm thinking at most another slushy 1-2" is possible. Again during the day, a lot of this would melt on most roadways that have been plowed or treated.
During much of this storm, temperatures will be ranging from the upper 20s to low 30s at night to the mid to upper 30s Wednesday. Not a lot of melting, but warm enough for melting some of the snow that falls.
All in all, roads are going to become snow covered and hazardous Tuesday night through mid-morning on Wednesday. And if you do shovel, this is going to be difficult to push around due to the high water content. The liquid amounts with the snow or precip that falls is estimated to be in the ballpark of .50-1.00". Good for making a snowman or snowball, bad on the back!
Be sure to keep it tuned to 24/7 Weather and our newscasts for the latest details on this springtime winter storm.
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