Storm Update – Latest Track & Forecast Totals

***Watch WISN 12 News for the updated snowfall forecast!***

Thank you for stopping by the Weather Watch 12 blog! In this entry we will look at the latest forecast track, and also check out a couple of forecast snow total maps.

The first batch of light snow continues across parts of southeastern Wisconsin. Below is a radar image at 12:30pm on Monday. I highlighted the edge of the light snow, this edge was drifting slowly north-northeast. Within the band of snow, there was a little steadier snow near I-94, but certainly not heavy snow.

For a live look at the radar just click below. This is our interactive radar that you can zoom, loop, and move around.


A winter weather advisory continues through 3pm Tuesday. Expect on and off light snow, with embedded pockets of moderate snow, from Monday evening/night into Tuesday. Most of southeastern Wisconsin will pick up about 2″-6″ during the advisory period, with the highest totals where lake effect/enhanced snow occurs.

Now the bigger question comes on the exact track for the second round of snow Tuesday Night into early Wednesday. The model runs this morning did vary.

Below is the TOTAL PRECIPITATION forecast from the 12Z NAM(North American Model). This forecast includes both rounds. This clearly puts the bullseye of the storm well to our southeast. This would put around a 0.50″ liquid in Milwaukee, which would translate into about 4″-6″ of snow!

NAM Total Precipitation Thru Wednesday

The forecast above would also have a sharp cut-off northwest of Milwaukee. Snow totals would be highest from around Milwaukee south to Kenosha. This would represent a more southern track for the storm system.

The other model we look at is the GFS(Global Forecast System). The Monday morning run has a wetter storm, but less than what was showing up over the weekend. The map below puts about 0.75″-1.25″ liquid near Milwaukee, Racine, and Kenosha from Monday morning through Wednesday afternoon. Lesser amounts farther north and west. This would translate to about 8″-14″ of snow in the high bands, less elsewhere.

GFS Total Precipitation Thru Wednesday

GFS Total Precipitation Through Wednesday

The GFS would represent a more northern track. One final model that we like to look at…and one that has been all over the board in the past 2 days, is the RPM. This is a higher resolution computer model. Below is the snowfall forecast it thinks will happen between now and Wednesday at 6pm.

Now that the surface low is forming over Texas, we will be able to track its progress and strength versus what the models are saying. We can also use radar data. All of these things will go into the forecast we put on WISN 12 News at 5, 6, & 10pm. The main round of snow is expected Tuesday Night into early Wednesday for the Milwaukee area. The snow will be accompanied by gusty winds of 20-40mph.

The question is how much snow?

Right now we are looking at the maximum snow totals coming in around 15 inches, likely somewhere in Racine or Kenosha counties, and then low end totals of around 4 to 6 inches in parts of Dodge and Fond du Lac counties. Again these totals may change as the storm evolves, but that is where things stand right now.

If you have questions or thoughts about the snow, just post them to the comments section!

Jeremy Nelson


68 Responses

  1. [so sad…]

    Actually, after all this time, I _CAN_ believe that we will ‘probably’ lose the big punch, and it will go south to Chicago or further south. Wow.

    I mean really… [so sad…]

    I can totally see each broadcast forecast throughout the day slowly lowering estimates as you have been since midday yesterday as the storm and track have evolved.


    • Michael,

      The highest we have gone on any broadcast is 12″-18″. Those totals may still happen in the favored areas closer to the lake especially in Racine and Kenosha counties. Don’t let your guard down, lots of wind and snow will cause some big problems Tuesday night into Wednesday.


  2. That really STINKS was looking forward to the Blizzard 😦

    • I may have to change my name to “The other Dan G”

  3. What do you think the totals will be, Jeremy? I was hoping for over a foot of snow in Waukesha — what are the chances for that?

    • Chris,

      Still possible, the RPM graphic had you close to 10″, GFS would suggest more than 10″.


  4. Man I feel like we just got a total letdown. 😦 I was really looking forward to a big monster of a storm around here. Maybe something will change from now till when the storm hits. 😦

    • Nicole,

      I don’t want people to not take the storm seriously, but anytime we are talking the potential for 10″+ of snow in spots, that is a pretty big storm!


  5. Jeremy,
    What model do you guys ten to favor? The RPM or GFS?

  6. Any day that snow falls is a good day. I sure hope the Oshkosh School District gets a snow day from this. I kinda made bets with a few friends of mine that are teachers during xmas break about this storm… 🙂 Maybe the blowing snow will create enough havoc that on Wednesday schools will close. *fingers-crossed*

  7. I just want to say that all of you at WISN do a great job with the weather. I love this blog, with all the maps and models. Over the years I have observed just how hard it is to come up with accurate snowfall totals. Slight movements north or south make a huge difference. How accurate do you think models will be 10 years from now? What do you need for better models – more detailed measurements, more computing power, etc.?

    • Brian,

      Modeling certainly is tough. Each model has a bias which you can search for and read more about. I do think forecasts will continue to improve both short and long range. It is tough to take a parcel of air out over the Pacific, and then translate how that will flow and interact with other variables 6-7 days out.

      Thanks for posting to the blog and reading!


  8. Thanks for the updated snow totals on this blog! I must say, your snowfall predictions so far this winter season have been almost spot-on. Walworth County is ready for 10+ inches! 🙂

    • Jan,

      Your chances of a higher snow total in Walworth county look pretty good. Get ready for some wind too!


      • Thanks Jeremy! We will hold on tight to our shovels then! 🙂

  9. So now that the signature storm is taking place 3 days later than the storm you mistook it for when you made the February forecast, does this bump all the dates you mention in that forecast back a few days.

    • Daniel,

      It may a few, but overall I tried to give some date ranges. I should have stayed with my initial feeling on the signature storm that I posted numerous times in January of the end of the month to around February 1. That fit the 50ish days much better. I’ll do a comparison later this week on this storm and December.


  10. Is the blizzard still expected? I heard that the snow will be wet and heavy.

    • Dan,

      Blizzard conditions are still possible Tuesday night, especially in areas from Milwaukee south. Even inland areas will see reduced visibility and poor travel in some areas.


  11. Oh no, I was totally looking forward to a ton of snow like the East Coast was getting… I live on the Caledonia border right on the lake -so my we will still see a significant amount [crossing fingers]

    • Deanna,

      I think you will see plenty of snw in your area. Good chance of over 12″.


  12. Jeremy,

    I see you put the liquid levels at .75-1.25″. For those of us living in downtown Milwaukee near the lake, would we be on the higher end of that, or does being so close to the lake put us even higher?


    • Mike,

      The GFS is just one model, it is wetter. Good news if you like snow. By the lake in Milwaukee the models can take into account some lake enhanced/effect snow, but overall they don’t do a great job. Lake effect snow bands can be very intense, but isolated. So if you do get hit by one it could easily boost your total by 1″-3″ quickly. I think if you live downtown you should see quite a bit of snow. Mark is working on the forecast for the newscast right now. But 10″+ in Milwaukee looks good.


      • What is the formula you use to calculate accumulations based on the data from this model?

      • Mike,

        Usually look at the liquid amount and then use a ratio based on moisture content in the snow, temperature, winds, etc.


  13. Hi Jeremy!

    Wow, the ‘natives’, at least the snow loving ones, are really starting to get restless, aren’t they?
    On a more serious note, I’ve noticed my home barometer starting to fall by quite a bit within the last hour or so. Also, the wind has shifted more to the NE and seems a bit stronger. I’m going to take a guess that more than likely means the lake effect snow might start cranking up anytime now. We’ll see!


  14. Hi Jeremy,

    Just thought I would let you know that we have had a few flurries this afternoon here in Oostburg. Not sure what to expect from this storm or what is to come.


  15. NWS just issued a blizzard warning for the Chicago metro area including the counties just to the south of Walworth and Kenosha county. Wonder if/when we might see some warnings issued around here.

  16. Unless I’m mistaken, the NWS just issued Blizzard Warnings for almost all of SE Wisconsin!

    Even if snow totals are down, it looks to be “one hell of a storm” [Doc Brown, Back to the Future]!!!


    • No one should let there guard down. We are still forecasting over a foot of snow in areas along with strong winds. 18Z GFS was more north. Certainly different from the NAM.


  17. Just saw that Michael! lol. Getting VERY excited about this storm!

  18. Do you see any chances that the low could move further north? Or will we continue to rely on the LES for much of the snow totals?

  19. Jeremy, the NWS totals are much higher… any idea what they’re doing differently? Hope this doesn’t influence you haha

    • Dan,

      I think there will be some high totals, but the cut-off may be very sharp. I haven’t talked to the NWS so I’m not sure what their forecast calls for. I just know we are under a Blizzard Warning later tomorrow. I’m out for a live shot now so I’m not at the station.


      • I really appreciate the fact you don’t rely on others, like many do! Much respect.

        Good luck!

    • Except that the NWS just lowered all their totals with their latest 3:40pm forecast. Waukesha expecting 6-8″ tomorrow night instead of 10″+ as they have been showing over the last 24 hours.

      Jeremy, will the latest 18Z GFS run influence your totals for the 5pm and 6pm forecasts this evening?

      Thanks again!


      • Michael,

        Mark is putting the forecast together, I’m out doing a live shot. I know Mark will look at the GFS.


  20. Blizzard warning now in effect! Could we see a foot+ in Muskego? I don’t think there’s ever been a time where there was a blizzard warning but schools were still open!

    • Bryan,

      I’m guessing there will be many delays and cancellations on Wednesday.


  21. The radar shows snow over Sheboygan but nothings coming down. And how has the ecmwf looking? That model has been more consistent all einter

    • Robert,

      The radar beam is higher when it reaches your area, picking up more snow aloft.


  22. Could there be some thunder snow with this storm? I live a mile off the lake in Oak Creek and have my snow blower ready. Bring on the snow!

  23. Monday, January 31, 2011 5:22 pm

    Presently have steady, light (smallish flakes) falling. Driveway (blacktop) mostly has a uniform thin coating of snow (1/8 inch or less). Snow cover from previous snows at 8″

    The snow stopped shortly after my 9 am. post of today. Snow began again at approx 4:30pm. Planning to post a 9:30pm update today and another 9am update tomorrow.
    Once the blowing and drifting sets in, I’m not sure what I’ll be able to do, but I’ll make an honest effort to get you a number(s) that seem reasonable actual snowfall amounts. We’ll see!
    If there’s any additional info you’d like, please feel free to ask and I’ll try to accommodate you best I’m able to.

    Tony (Pleasant Prairie)

  24. The NWS keeps hinting at a heavy lake effect band setting up in Sheboygan tomorrow. Do you see anything that could confirm that?

    • Robert, there will be some lake effect bands. I do think some of them could be intense especially Tuesday night into Wednesday. Jeremy

  25. Just watched Mark’s forecast and of course was disappointed to see totals drop again, as the storm heads toward Chicago getting the brunt.

    What confused me is that I don’t think he mentioned ‘lake-effect’ anything throughout the entire show. Did that influence mysteriously drop off the map? The snow forecast maps didn’t take into account the lake at all for any of the timelines he showed.

    Curious viewer.


  26. Are we looking at some of the final forecasts, or could we be looking at an entirely different outlook tomorrow morning? I’m posting snow updates on my weather blog sidebar.

  27. Just saw a new RPM model posted by WGN’s Tom Skilling minutes ago. It shows us and Chicago now getting 2+ feet of snow. How reliable is the RPM?

    • Taylor, RPM can be very reliable. BUT, just look at the wide range of RPM snow forecasts I’ve posted in the blog over the last day from the RPM. No model has been very consistent, to be expected with a large storm. Jeremy

  28. Breaking: Skilling’s RPM (the same one used by WISN, at least the graphics are the same) have crept the storm north again to yesterday’s track, bringing very heavy snow to the entire metro. This northern jag must be watched very closely!

    • Just saw this too. Looks pretty promising for us if it pans out! Chicago is raving about Skilling!

    • Hey Bryan,
      I’m not sure if Tom Skillings RPM graphic was a mistake or not but it is the EXACT same graphic that was posted yesterday…hope that it wasn’t a mistake and that things are turning the right direction, but thought you should know.

      • You sure? i’ve looked on his page and cant find the old one anywhere.

      • I’m positive but I don’t think it was Skilling’s I think it was from NWS or something…I believe it was also in the blog from yesterday as well. But hey I am still hoping that it happens! Didn’t want to burst any bubbles, I am still thinking positively! 🙂

  29. New 18z GFS out as well. Wetter for the Milwaukee area. QPF of 1.25″ south of a Port Washington to Janesville line. 12-18 “

  30. Could someone please post a link to the latest RPM model posted by Skilling?



    • But as Jeremy often says, take it with a grain of salt lol

  31. Saw the forecast from you guys and was devastated to see just 3-6 inches for Waukesha county…Unbelievable!! 😦 I’m still gonna hold out my original hope that the storm is so intense that it will spin itself a little more north and put us in the heart of the snowstorm with the 12-18 inches I thought originally… Trying to stay optimistic in Big Bend.

    • Dave,

      I think the total for the storm in your area was 5″-9″ in Mark’s 6pm show.


  32. When does the new WISN rpm come out?

    • Bryan…it’s coming in right now.


      • Great, I’m excited to see it!

  33. 2.2″ of storm snow at 7:45 PM in Waukesha.

  34. Hi Jeremy-

    At what point will you know a definite storm track, or does it change hourly with a big storm such as this? Just wondering if snow totals could still change?


  35. Madison now has a Blizzard watch that was just posted a little bit ago. Does that mean that the storm system has shifted a little to the north possibly? Boy this storm is giving me a headache I can’t imagine how you guys are feeling over in the weather center!

  36. Skilling’s the man!

  37. 2.1″ in East Troy at 9pm

  38. Monday, January 31, 2011 9:21 pm

    Snow Report: ½ to maybe 3/4 inch since approx 4:30pm. Present conditions: Light snow falling and being blown around by mostly east wind which shifts occasionally to a more northern direction.

    Tony (Pleasant Prairie)

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