(10:30AM - 1/26/19) We have now reached Saturday morning and are nearly only 36 hours or so away from the start of this winter storm and there are several questions that remain with this system. These being, where will the low pressure track? Where will the heaviest axis of snow be? Will it stay all snow across portions of Illinois that do get affected by this storm? How long will the duration of the snow be? Is there a chance this winter storm could completely miss most of Illinois and hit Wisconsin?
We try to answer some of those questions below and give you our first thought on snowfall totals at this stage of the game...
With regard to where our eventual winter storm currently is at the moment....it is still out over the northern Pacific Ocean this morning (circled in blue) but is about to come ashore British Columbia later today and tonight, and spend some time traversing western and southwest Canada. The blue track is a best guess track on the path our system will take between now and Sunday afternoon until it enters the northern United States.
What happens after it enters the northern U.S. continues to remain a big question and has big implications down the road for the portions of Illinois that could be affected by this system. The track of the surface low will mean the difference between potentially 6-10" of snow and little snow. The image below might be a bit confusing but it is showing the current forecast track of the low pressure system and I put on there the times it would be at that location. Each little down surrounding the "L" at that time along with the red lines are all the different potential tracks our system could take so you can see there is still a good amount of uncertainty. A further north system, tracking across southern Wisconsin would take much of Illinois out of the swath of snow, but a further south track could mean anywhere from the IL/WI border down to possibly central Illinois could see at least several inches.
Even with the uncertainty above, the overall evolution of the winter storm hasn't changed much. As you can see below, snow develops across southern Canada and the northern plains on Sunday before streaking south and southeast across that area before entering the Midwest from the northwest on Sunday afternoon and evening, continuing into Monday. The loop below runs from 6am on Sunday to 6pm on Monday. You can see a widespread area of snow to the north and northeast of the southeast moving surface low from the northern plains into the Midwest. Wherever the heaviest swath sets up, there is the potential that is continuously snows for over 24 hours over a given area so this could be quite the lengthy winter storm.
Below is still a rough estimate of the potential heaviest swath of snow as it will most likely be smaller than this but anyone in this orange box remains under the gun significant snow accumulations from this system, but that will as mentioned above, dependent on the track of the area of low pressure. As mentioned in previous posts, temperatures will be quite cold and snow will stack up easier/accumulate much faster than say a snowstorm during early or late winter where temperatures are warmer. We are now in the dead of winter and locked into a very cold pattern across the Midwest, which is only going to make travel harder and potentially impossible during this winter storm.
We will continue to send out updates as we continue to analyze new model data over the next 24 hours and also fine tuning the axis of heaviest snow and whether portions of Illinois will be hit by this system. Below is our updated TAM snowfall forecast, which only features minor changes since last nights update.
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