(8:00AM - 1/24/19) It has been quite the stretch of winter weather over the past few weeks across portions of the Midwest and here in Illinois and it is only going to get worse, or better if you're one of the crazy ones who love the snow and cold. We will be beginning a weather pattern across the Midwest as soon as Friday morning (with dangerous cold wind chills for portions of the state) that will most likely have several shots of arctic air and also several chances for accumulating snow, one of which that could be quite significant.
I dig into some details and early thoughts on the latter, which has our attention for a potential major winter storm...
All is quiet on the Midwest front this morning and while portions of the state could see a weak system or two move through Friday night and Sunday with light snow accumulations, the real threat will be a very impressive that is currently over the Pacific Ocean and will be crashing ashore western Canada over British Columbia on Saturday night. This system will then dive southeast across southern Canada and into the northern plains by Sunday afternoon and evening with its sights then set on the Midwest.
By Sunday afternoon and evening after the wave crosses the northern Rockies, it will be ejecting into the northern plains atop a tightening baroclinic zone, or thermal gradient. A baroclinic zone is a sharp change in temperature from one location to another. Storm systems like to "feast" on these thermal gradients and usually can strengthen a good amount as they track along the thermal gradient. You can see the tight temperature gradient (circled below) establishing itself to the southeast of our developing area of low pressure.
Across Illinois over the weekend ahead of this system, temperatures will be quite cold, especially across the northern part of the state and things look now. In most cases, the colder it is both at the surface and higher up in the atmosphere, the easier it is snow to accumulate and stack up higher, more quickly. This is one of the reasons this system has a lot of potential with it as the thermal profile will be conducive for higher snow ratios. I can dig more in detail later on with this system if that's what some people would like to learn/read about.
Below is a loop of one models solution so don't take it verbatim as things could and probably will change to some extent but there is surprisingly good agreement at this stage of the game of the system unfolding in this fashion. The loop runs from Sunday morning through early Tuesday morning. You can see our winter storm developing to our northwest across the northern plains and eventually coming southeast into the Midwest and Illinois.
The big takeaway though at this stage is that we are obviously several days away from this system even entering the United States so don't take nothing at face value just yet as several factors will go into the strength and track of this system which will then have implications on where and how much snow will fall across the Midwest. Nothing is certain at this stage and the orange box location could change over the next few days depending on the track of the area of low pressure.
Stay tuned for continued updates and article posts on this potentially significant winter storm to impact portions of Illinois.
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