Sunny skies will be the weather story for the morning and afternoon hours today as high temperatures reach the mid 30s north to nearly the upper 40s along the Iowa/Missouri border. This will unfortunately be the highest temperatures we’ll see for the rest of the week. A pair of low pressure troughs will swing through the area beginning with the first one this afternoon and the second one later tonight. Associated alongside these troughs will be a quick increase in winds, as well as snow. Winds this afternoon are expected to reach the 15-25 MPH range (gusts to 35 MPH) with some light snow. This will not be a steady snow, but rather several periods of “spurty” light snow. The worst of the winds will come with the second trough through the overnight hours with winds peaking in the 30-40 MPH sustained range with gusts to over 50 MPH possible at times.
Still, it is still not for certain on the exact impacts that this will all have. The big wild card is how much of a factor that the already deep snow cover across northern Iowa will play. If this will be easily lofted, full blizzard conditions can be anticipated. However, if it remains solid and not blowing, the overall impact will be much lighter. However, many reports received across northern Iowa have indicated that the snow has already been blowing slightly from light winds, which indicates that the snow pack is not set in stone by any means. Additionally, all-in-all either way, the wind could easily “break up” the snow after a long period, and lead to blowing snow.
And in all considerations… there have been more things leaning toward blizzard-like conditions than not. For this reason, National Weather Service offices across the state have issued Blizzard Warnings for much of north central, northwest, and central Iowa, effective this afternoon across the west and tonight in the further east. This will remain in effect until Monday afternoon or evening. For specific times, please consult your local forecast page. Winter Weather Advisories have been issued for four counties in northeast Iowa where the wind impacts will not be as great, but blowing snow remains possible. A Wind Advisory has been issued for the far northwest where the snow impact will not be as great. In the end, significant travel impacts are likely yet again, with nearly impossible travel.
It’s important to note the National Weather Service criteria for a blizzard as well: “a period of sustained wind or frequent gusts of 35 MPH or greater” and “falling and/or blowing snow with visibility of less than 1/4 mile for three hours or more.” My point: you don’t need a lot of snow for a blizzard warning. The total accumulations with this system will likely only be 1-2″ for most of the state. However, this will easily be blown around with the 50 MPH wind gusts forecasted… along with the aforementioned issues with the snow already fallen.
The rest of the week remains rather quiet with about average temperatures.
Stay tuned to the Iowa Weather Network for the latest updates!