Our cross-country storm rages on today as blizzard conditions spread into the Upper Plains and Midwest. Nearly every type of weather threat will be seen east of the Rockies by the end of the week as severe weather brings torrential downpours, high winds, hail, and possibly tornadoes just to the south of some of the snowiest areas. For the Southern Plains, an extreme fire weather risk remains today, and extends into tomorrow.

Welcome to the Wednesday edition of your Morning Briefing, where we’ll give you a quick rundown on everything you need to know weather-wise, every weekday morning. Let’s dive right in.

Blizzard Conditions to Rage Across Northern and Central Plains:

  1. Blizzard warnings are in effect over much of the Northern and Central Plains today as snow begins to creep in from the west. By Friday, almost 2 feet will have fallen in some areas, making this late-season winter storm one to remember.
  2. Snow will begin this morning as precipitation moves over the Rockies today. Snowfall will pick up throughout the afternoon, becoming heaviest overnight.
  3. The most potent snow bands will likely come from the comma head of the storm, which will be centered over South Dakota later tonight. Long durations of heavy snowfall can be expected through tonight into Thursday.
  4. In combination with high winds, blowing snow and low visibility will make for blizzard conditions in many areas through tonight. Travel through these areas will be dangerous, and sometimes impossible. It’s highly advised to heed local warnings and road closures.
  5. Snow will continue into Friday as the system moves east, but will quickly switch to snow in some areas or taper off by the evening.

Severe Risk Through Thursday:

  1. To the south and east of our raging blizzard conditions will be days of severe weather risk. While unusual when paired with winter weather, it comes as no surprise that a storm this powerful would provide enough energy and lift for both scattered and widespread severe thunderstorms to run rampant.
  2. The highest risk for severe storm development will be this afternoon and into the evening as our system drags it’s powerful cold front across the Central Plains. Despite limited moisture, enough warming and mixing will provide fuel for instabilities to shoot up this afternoon.
  3. A few powerful supercells are expected to form, especially in southeastern Nebraska, where large hail and powerful straight-line winds will likely cause some significant damage into the evening. Heavy downpours are also likely within powerful storms, which would cause/exacerbate river flooding on top of everything else.
  4. Severe storms will likely continue through the night, with some storms migrating northeast. Thursday, a few minor storms can be expected to pop up during the day, but by the afternoon, some stronger convection will lead to stronger storms over IL and IN.
  5. Both today and Thursday, the greatest danger from developing storms will likely be large hail and damaging winds. While tornado development is possible, it is much less likely and won’t be long lived.

Extreme Fire Risk Today Over Southern Plains:

  1. Every type of weather seems to be coming from this potent system, especially with extremely critical fire weather present just to the south of all of the other action.
  2. Fire weather is common in the spring and fall, when dry air and high winds mix to create prime conditions for wildfires to start and rapidly spread. Today, strong low level wind fields will blow extremely dry air over the Southern High Plains today, making the region at high risk for wildfire spread.
  3. While fire weather doesn’t necessarily start fires, it provides the perfect environment for a fire to catch and grow. Dry brush and dead grass catching fire can get blown by strong winds and spread extremely quickly.
  4. Today, eastern NM and western TX are at the highest risk, sitting to the west of a potent dry-line. Here, daytime heating will continue to dry air to even lower relative humidities, increasing the risk well into the evening.

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Kathleen is a Meteorologist at WeatherOptics, where she works writing content for the website, providing accurate and detailed forecasts to clients, and consulting on various meteorological projects. Kathleen earned her B.S. in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences in 2018 from Stony Brook University. Kathleen has also done research into our changing climate by investigating theRole of Atmospheric Rivers on Arctic Amplification in 2017.

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