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Thank you for stopping by the Weather Watch 12 blog! Today we are going to discuss our snow chances for Thursday and give you some possible snow totals for that event, and also provide some timing of when the snow will arrive.
Let’s first start with the bone chilling cold that has been lingering over parts of the Plains and Midwest for the better part of a week. Here in Milwaukee we are right on the edge of the frigid air. The areas seeing the really cold temperatures are around Minneapolis down to Kansas City and back up through the Dakotas. Many of those locations have had overnight lows in the -10 to -30 degree range for several nights in a row. Half of my family lives in Minnesota and the other half right here in the Milwaukee area. I was back visiting family in Windom, MN this past weekend. On Saturday morning at 7am I took a picture of my dad’s weather station which was registering an air temperature of -26.7 degrees! The low that morning was close to -28! I think the face with a frown on the reading says it all!
To put this in a little perspective, the coldest temperature so far this season in Milwaukee was 1 degree above zero back on December 10.
Not only do we have more cold in the forecast, but for the first time this month, some accumulating snow! Mark has been discussing this possibility of snow for Thursday for days. An Alberta Clipper will dive into the Midwest on Wednesday and begin bringing snow to many locations, but it appears that in Milwaukee our snow should hold off until Thursday morning.
Once the snow begins it fall all day on Thursday. This snow will be different than any other so far this season. First it will be colder, so the snow will be very light and fluffy. Second, we should see hours of lake enhancement or lake effect adding to the snow rate/totals. Keep in mind that the enhancement is for areas closer to Lake Michigan.
Below is a forecast from our in house computer model. This is a forecast around 9am on Thursday. This map is important because it shows that winds will be out of a northeasterly direction, which is perfect for lake effect/enhancement in Southeast Wisconsin. The wind barbs are the lines with little ‘spokes’ sticking out of them. The long spoke is 10 knots and the half spoke is 5 knots. The red ‘*’ is the metro, and the light blue/aqua color is snow. Right now it looks like the wind will be northeast for 10-15 hours! For a closer look at the map just click on it.
So what are we talking about in terms of accumulation? With the above mention of lake effect/ehancement I think lake shore locations, especially from Milwaukee county south will end up with the highest totals. Lesser amounts inland. The snow forecast from our in house computer model through Thursday shows a general band of 2-4″ across the area, with a few spots closer to the lake picking up 4-6″.
With the cold temperatures snow ratios will be 15 or 20 to 1. This means that a typical Milwaukee storm with a snow ratio of 10 to 1 translates to 10″ of snow for every 1″ of liquid precipitation. With a higher ratio the snow will likely add up quicker. Two of our favored models…the GFS and NAM are forecasting 0.31″ and 0.43″ respectively of liquid precipitation for Milwaukee. Since this will fall as all snow, it could add up to 5-6″ near the lake. Hopefully this helps you understand how forecasting snow totals can be a little tricky from looking at the storm track, to temperatures, lake effect/ehancement, to snow ratios. Each variable plays a key role, and just a slight change to any can shift the snow totals higher or lower.
The variables are what we will be watching closely over the next 36 hours. Make sure to bookmark our blog and stop back often for updates. Don’t forget to leave your thoughts and questions in the comments section of the blog. Mark and me will be happy to discuss this storm!
Have a great day and make sure to watch WISN 12 News for the latest!