Major Winter Storm Starts This Evening
First Alert Weather Day In Place Through Saturday
- Heaviest Snow Through Thursday
- Strong Winds Through Friday
- Dangerously Cold Through Saturday
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Time is running out to prepare and get holiday travel in ahead of a major winter storm. A First Alert Day has been issued for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday for a combination of heavy snow, gusty winds, and dangerously cold temperatures. Accumulations are looking to be in the 4–8-inch range for most of southern Wisconsin. The lower totals will be south and east of Madison. Locally up to 10 inches will be possible north and west of Madison. A Winter Storm Warning is in place for all of southern Wisconsin through early Saturday. This will be a long duration winter storm with multiple elements to contend with.
It is important not to focus on exact totals, but rather the impacts this storm will bring. In many respects, snowfall amounts really won’t be the top or even the second biggest concern with this storm. Those distinctions will be reserved for: the wind, blowing and drifting snow, white out conditions, and extreme cold. All of which will create potentially life-threatening conditions whether a couple of inches of snow falls or 12 inches of snow falls. Near blizzard conditions are expected Thursday night through Friday night as winds could gust 50 mph. This would include whiteout conditions due to heavily falling and blowing snow. Extraordinarily cold temps during the storm (wind chills 40 below zero) will make for life-threatening conditions for anyone who becomes stranded traveling.
Flurries and snow showers will develop after sunset with snow becoming steady as we move after midnight. Overnight lows will climb from the teens into the 20s with a light southeasterly wind of 3-5 mph. Slick and snow-covered roadways will develop by Thursday morning.
Steady moderate to at times heavy snow is likely through midday before lightening up through the afternoon and evening. Temperatures will be falling from the 20s through the teens and into the single digits by late evening. Winds will pick up out of the northwest 5-20 mph through the afternoon and evening. Roads are expected to deteriorate throughout the day.
Periods of light snow will taper down to flurries as we move into the night. The bigger story will be the strong winds that develop out of the northwest 30-40 mph. Blowing and drifting snow will become an issue with travel becoming very difficult to impossible at times. Overnight lows will be in the single digits below zero with wind chill values down to -40 degrees. This is dangerously cold into Friday morning with frostbite is possible in 10 minutes or less.
We will likely start the day off dry with wrap around snow showers developing through the afternoon and evening. Don’t be fooled by the fact that there may not be a lot of snow falling. Strong winds of 30-50 mph will remain through the day Friday creating considerable blowing and drifting of snow. Travel will be discouraged and possible not possible as some of the worst conditions of the storm move in. Wind chills will remain around -20 degree throughout the day
Not much improvement as we head into the overnight hours as snow showers remain possible. While additional accumulation will be light, the winds will continue to blow 30-40 mph with blowing and drifting snow. Wind chill values will also be around -30 degrees creating dangerous conditions.
Saturday will start off messy with difficult travel. Winds will still be gusty to around 30 mph. This will lead to continued blowing and drifting snow. While travel will be difficult early, there should be a slight improvement later in the day. Temperatures will be in the single digits with wind chills remaining around -20.
Winds start to calm down and the worst of the storm will be done with. Driving will still be difficult, and it will still be very cold with lows below zero and wind chill values double digits below zero.
Mostly sunny and calm conditions return. Still cold as highs will only be into the single digits and wind chill values below zero. Southern Wisconsin will start to dig out and clean up from a major winter storm as roadways improve.
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