Bone Chilling Cold…Snow Ahead!

***Watch WISN 12 News today at 5, 6, & 10pm for the latest on forecast snow totals where you live!***

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!

Jeremy Nelson


16 Responses

  1. Hi Jeremy! Miss you here in KC but glad you are closer to family.
    This blog is awesome.
    Cannot believe we are preparing for snow storm #5 already and not even to middle of January. To think blizzard conditions may be coming back to visit us again!
    I took some pictures while in Okoboji at Christmas. We had 25″ of snow fall from Wed through Sat. Rather amazing. We shoveled 3 times a day just to keep up. Posted them on FB. Wife took more pics of the park area and kids sledding onto lake.
    Take care and be safe.

    • Thanks for stopping by Jeff! I remember many summer day trips to Okoboji…those are great memories on these cold January days!


  2. Jeremy:
    Hello from snowy KC. We are not that cold yet as that tempature in the picture is crazy!! Can you believe we are awaiting our 2nd Winter Storm and possibly our 2nd blizzard as well!! All we needed was for you to move North and shove it down here in KC.

    Excelent blog as usual my friend. Glad to see all is well in Minnesota. Keep the cold but send the snow…LOL take care

    • Ed, Milwaukee is in the sights for this coming snow. Lake enhancement will aid in this event. Likely 4-6″ near the lake with a higher total or two not out of the question.

      We will keep sending the cold down to KC:)


  3. Is there a winner in either area with this?

    • The 15th storm looks nice…glad I talked about that in the January forecast. The cold behind this clipper is cold, but at least a break comes next week. Enjoy the storm!


  4. So Jeremy, snow and cold likely for the middle of the month? How cold do ya think? Thanks! All of you keep up the good work 😀

    • Dan,

      The worst of the cold I think is in the next 5-6 days. Then some moderation before the storm around the 15th(ish). That storm in the middle of the month could be very large, I highlighted this in my January forecast as a storm to watch and one that could bring us snow.


      • Cool, thanks for the reply! I’ll keep my hopes up for that one, haha…

  5. Hey Jeremy how’s it goin?? I hope we get the storm on or around the 15th Here in the Milwaukee area and I hope it misses the K.C. area (we need somefresh stuff) Thanks Again for this usefull BLOG Dan

  6. Jeremy,

    I noticed that your snow totals are significantly lower than the other three stations in Milwaukee, plus the NWS forecast. You guys have 4-6 by the lake, while the other stations and NWS say this amount for more inland sections, like me here in Muskego. NWS and the other stations say 6-10 inches by the lake. DO you guys firmly believe in a lower forecast in totals compared to the rest of the forecasts?

    Just an observation…



    • Bryan,

      This is the first time the lake will really impact our snow totals this season, in the sense that it will add to the amount of snow we see. The snow ratio which I talked about in the blog and also the total amount of liquid will play a role in the totals. We are confident in our forecast, but I ALWAYS tell people I would much rather be a little conservative on a snow forecast when it is still around 48 hours out. Lots can and will change. It is very easy to adjust totals up slightly. One piece of information that just came out from the NAM(North American Model) suggests a little wetter storm. This may add 1-3″ to our forecast totals…if we believe it or if other models begin lining up. Make sure to watch tonight at 10pm to see our latest snow forecast map. Between 9-10pm we will have another couple of updates come in.

      Thanks for stopping by and get ready for some snow on Thursday!


      • Thanks for your response… your right that its still a good distance away from us. I guess I’d rather see lower to higher, not the opposite. I get so hyped up… then when I doesn’t happen I get disappointed. lol. More snow to the existing totals, wow! What a strong clipper! Thanks again!

      • Just checked my NWS Point n Click Forecast for Muskego… they raised ours to 4-8… with an additional half inch Thursday night. Guess they agree with that new data.

  7. It’s supposed to snow AGAIN tomorrow. Boo. Somebody rescue me from this ice cube, and warm up my feets!!!

    • Hang in there for another week, temperatures should be average or even above by the middle of the month.


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