You knew we couldn't keep the chilly weather and potential of flakes flying out of the forecast for too much longer. Yes, the first storm containing some notable wintry type precipitation in parts of Wisconsin will be tracking through this weekend. First off, let me lay out where this storm has been and then what the projected path of the low could end up being. An upper level trough is currently dug out across the western third of the country. The cold front which passed across the region on Thursday was accompanied by a moisture starved low that followed the jet stream north into southern Canada. Needless to say, this was just establishing the foundation for our main event so to speak. A new wave of low pressure will develop in the south central plains, near the Texas/Oklahoma panhandle on Friday. Out ahead of this, a stream of clouds with rain showers should overspread central & southern Wisconsin. This leading band of moisture will be a part of the baroclinc leaf, known as an area of clouds and moisture that stream out to the northeast of a developing storm system. So outside of perhaps a couple flakes mixing in with the rain showers to the northwest of Wausau, this shouldn't be much of a concern.
Things get more interesting on Saturday as low pressure pulls north-northeast into eastern Iowa. As you'll see with the graphic below, the low is expected to be to the south and west of North Central Wisconsin. Typically with a storm center position at this spot, much of the area is on the "mild side" of the storm. This means rain is likely on Saturday, with temperatures varying from just about 40 north of highway 29, to the mid to upper 40s the farther south one is in the viewing area. This storm is then forecast to head northeast into northern lower Michigan Saturday night into Sunday. During this stretch of time, chillier air could wrap into the system, causing what had been rain showers to switch over to snow showers. The look below to see what I think will ultimately be the track of the storm. Notice there is a narrow swath on the northwest side of the track that could experience primarily snow from Duluth and NW Wisconsin, back down into parts of Minnesota and NW Iowa.
Could this storm track be a sign of what is to come in the weeks ahead with more precipitation, perhaps featuring more in the way of snow than rain? Well, not necessarily the track of every storm approaching the start of winter in December will be like this, but if nothing else, this alignment of the jet stream does draw down sub-freezing temperatures into the western Great Lakes. It is also important to note that once we are into the heart of the winter season, storms that originate down in the Texas/Oklahoma panhandle or just east of the Rockies tend to feature a good amount of moisture and provide a risk for accumulating snow in the Badger State. This storm traversing on by won't be as moisture ladened as some others we have seen or could run into down the road, and also doesn't have a strong area of cold air to work with slipping in out of Canada. No less, some minor headaches could abound before all is said and done with this storm. As the low pulls away, if precipitation continues to linger in our region, I do think it will be cold enough for the flakes to fly on Sunday. Considering most of what may fall on Sunday will probably not be too intense, the main roadways would probably just be wet. Some bridges or overpasses could get slick, and there may be a slushy accumulation of a inch or so on the grass & rooftops in parts of the area.
Overall, this storm is not going to leave the same mark that a winter storm did in the region 4 years ago on November 10-11th. Back then, colder air swept into North Central Wisconsin, causing what had been falling as rain to switch over to accumulating snow that Friday night into early Saturday morning. Just over a foot of snow (12.5") was measured in Rhinelander, nearly 6" in Wausau, 4.5" in Marshfield and 4" in Wisconsin Rapids by the time all was said and done. Granted much of that snow slowly melted on Saturday afternoon, but certainly that storm reminded us we can get a snowy slap from winter in November.
Peeking down the road, daytime highs in the 30s appear to be common from Tuesday through Thursday of the new week. In addition, there are indications that an Alberta Clipper may slide down toward the Upper Midwest on either Tuesday or Wednesday. Cold enough air is anticipated to be in place that if we see precipitation, it would mostly be snow. However how much and how long the flakes may fly will be figured out as the time gets closer, but needless to say, you may have to break out the snow brush for the car and eventually the shovel before this month is over.
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