A major winter storm is developing, and will bring heavy snow, blizzard conditions, strong winds, and severe weather — a rather classic spring storm for the central US. The storm responsible for this wild weather is centered near the Front Range of Colorado, and it has already undergone bombogenesis, which means the pressure has dropped by at least 24 mb within 24 hours. This is a sign of rapid intensification and shows how strong this storm really is.
Snow will become more organized tonight as a widespread storm area develops, spanning from central Wisconsin through Colorado this evening. Within this snow will be bands of heavier snow, especially in southern Minnesota and portions of the northern Plains. This is also the region we will be watching for blizzard conditions. In fact, six states are under a Blizzard Warning. A blizzard is defined as persistent wind gusts of at least 35 mph paired with a visibility of less than a quarter mile, lasting for at least 3 consecutive hours. Now as we get into the overnight, there will be an area we’ll need to watch for freezing rain and sleet. That area will be just south and east of the snow, from north-central Kansas through central Wisconsin, while the snow persist across the similar areas as this afternoon.
Given the strength of this storm, there will also be the risk for severe weather in the warm sector of this storm. The best risk for strong storms this evening into tonight will be in extreme-northern Kansas into eastern Nebraska. We want to emphasize that there will be the risk for severe weather tonight, so you need to remain weather-aware. Strong, damaging winds, large, destructive hail, and a couple tornadoes will all be possible as several supercells likely form.
On Thursday, the snow will begin to clear out of the Rocky Mountains but will persist across a large chunk of the northern Plains and upper Midwest. The snow will also try to sneak into the northern part of the Great Lakes region, although it will be light. The heavier snow will be focused near the center of low pressure, from central Nebraska through southern Minnesota, where over 2 feet of snow may fall in total. This is also where there is the best chance for blizzard conditions, as winds possibly gust over 50 mph at times. Even behind the storm back toward the Plains and leeward side of the Rocky Mountains, widespread wind gusts of 35-50+ mph are expected. In most areas, there should be a distinct rain/snow line, but in Wisconsin there will be a large area that may deal with freezing rain and/or sleet during the day. What may also take place during the day is severe weather, once again. The best risk for these strong storms will be in the western Ohio River Valley, including much of Illinois and Indiana. Wind and hail will be the main threats, but an isolated tornado cannot be ruled out.
Now by Friday, the main impacts from this storm will come to an end as the storm begins to track into Canada while weakening. Despite this, snow will persist at a light to moderate rate across the Dakotas and much of the upper Midwest. This comes as rain ahead of the low pressure’s cold front begins to approach the East Coast. The strong winds will also move east, becoming centered over the Midwest. Gusts of 30-50 mph will be commonplace, which may lead to scattered power outages.