**Potential** Weekend (Jan 18-20th) winter storm to affect Illinois. Is it worth the hype you're probably seeing? No, not yet.
As some of you may have heard, there could be a significant winter storm to move through the Midwest this upcoming weekend and could potentially affect portions or a large area of Illinois as things look now. This system is already getting lots of chatter and hype on multiple social media networks and we are here to bring you back to earth, at least to an extent. What you've probably seen is big and colorful snowfall accumulations maps to get your attention and these are showing all these high snowfall accumulation amounts, and to the tenth of an inch too! Well we are here to tell you that by no means is anything set in stone and you should take anything you see at this stage of the game as a very small grain of salt.
I dig into some brief details below...
Numerical model guidance over the past several days has been very consistent on a large storm system traversing a wide area from the central plains on into the Midwest and eventually into the Northeast U.S. This very well could happen and it also very well could produce a large swatch of accumulating snow in that corridor but given the fact that we are still 4-5 days away from this event beginning and that the system itself is still well over the Pacific Ocean, the details will need to be worked out over the coming days and through the middle of this week. The only thing that is more certain at this time is the fact that a storm system will probably cross the heart of the country beginning on Friday and going through the weekend.
As you can see in the images below, there are still many things to be worked out with regard to the track of the surface low as well as how strong it is. Both of these variables will go a long way in determining both placement and amounts of snowfall if in fact a strong winter storm affects portions of the state. The first image is what is called an ensemble forecast, taking 51 members of a model and running it many many times, to get multiple possible outcomes/scenarios. As you can see that by noon this coming Saturday, the area of low pressure could be located over a large area and that it is way too early to know the exact track of it at this time.
We will continue to update you on any changes and thoughts as we go through this week as we continue to look at and analyze new model guidance and trend but please, do not go taking any snowfall totals maps you see out there on social media. They are complete garbage and useless at this range and anyone sharing them doesn't know what they are doing and only doing it for the hype.