All Weather News

Forecasting Snowfall for the Plains, Upper Midwest

3 Nov 2013, 12:07 pm

Winter is Here.

We’ve been watching the snow come down across the mountainous west, much to the delight of skiers and snowboarders everywhere. But will this storm drag more snow out into the Midwest?

Snow Observations. The National Weather Service put together this map of snow reports through 7AM Sunday, showing a bullseye of fresh powder near Yellowstone National Park. These totals will certainly be updated as the snow continues to fall.

Additional Storm Reports. Some areas of Montana are reporting upwards of 12″ of snow, while Boise, ID only picked up half an inch.

Little Snow Depth. The map above shows the small concentration of snow pack that we’ve accumulated so far this season. While 3.6% of the nation is currently covered in snow, that number will surely increase as our next storm organizes itself.

Midweek Mess for the Midwest? Wintry weather is on the way from Nebraska to the Great Lakes by Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. The ECMWF (European weather model) is pumping out 3-6″ along the South Dakota border and up towards the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, with at least a dusting across the rest of the Midwest.

Ample Moisture to Work With. This map shows the amount of precipitable water in the atmosphere. It gives a general approximation of how much precipitation a storm can produce. 2-3 inches of liquid water would be a decent rain storm, but keep in mind that snow-to-liquid-water ratios are on average between 10:1 and 13:1 for the Midwest in October & November. This means that (VERY) generally speaking, one inch of liquid water could POSSIBLY produce between 10 and 13 inches of snow.

Forecast Challenges. As with any late fall winter storm, one of the biggest forecasting challenges will be accurately predicting how much precipitation falls in the form of snow and how much of it stays as rain.

Fire Up the Snowblower? Probably not just yet, but stay tuned to WeatherNation for the latest forecast updates as details for this snow event become clearer.

Have a great week ahead! -Meteorologist Miranda Hilgers

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