While the calendar clearly indicates the start of Spring, Old Man Winter isn’t ready to give up just yet. An unusually cold air mass combined with a strengthening low pressure system will lead to heavy snow and strong winds across the Plains and parts of the Midwest, and heavy icing further to the east. While April snowstorms aren’t unheard of, the scope of the region impacted by this storm as well as the magnitude, will make it rather rare.
Heavy snow, strong winds, and blizzard conditions are currently hitting the northern Plains hard, and will continue to do so through tonight and tomorrow as our storm slowly slides east. Right now blizzard warnings extend from North Dakota to Kansas with wind gusts over 50 mph at times and a foot or more of snow expected. While the Plains are taking the brunt of the system today, the Midwest will be under the gun tomorrow. Gusty winds between 25 and 45 mph along with 12-15 inches of snow will be possible from Minneapolis to Des Moines. The other concern that will grow as our storm progresses and continues moving east will be sleet and freezing rain. Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan will be at highest risk for sleet and freezing rain, with several inches of Winter precipitation possible between Saturday night and Sunday.
At this same time between Saturday and Sunday, the leading edge of our storms precipitation will move into northern New England, especially Upstate New York and southern Canada. Snow will be less of a concern in these areas, as warmer temperatures aloft will allow for more sleet and freezing rain than snow. In fact, some guidance is beginning to print out a fairly significant amount of icing, especially for parts of northern New York State, Vermont and New Hampshire. The worst of this icing will begin Saturday afternoon and continue into Sunday afternoon.
Even areas further south into parts of southern New England will be at risk for some icing, which again, for April is very unprecedented. Northern Pennsylvania, southern New York, Interior Connecticut and Massachusetts will all have the chance for freezing rain and sleet on Sunday morning. The significant icing will likely remain further north and west.
Some snow will also be possible across the Northeast, but likely confined to extreme northern New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. Up to 4 inches can be expected by Sunday.
This will be a rather long duration event, with the actual storm system not moving out of the Northeast until Monday night. The heavy freezing rain and sleet will become all rain as the storm passes through on Monday, with some storms even possible further to the south. Once passing through, cold air will move in behind and some additional snow and rain showers will be possible on Tuesday.