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Major Winter Storm Update: 6-10 inches possible Minneapolis to Chicago to DC

4 Mar 2013, 2:05 pm

March Winter Storm Headlines

*Unusually intense, slow-moving Alberta Clipper to dump 5-10″ from Twin Cities to Madison, Milwaukee an Chicago.

* Tuesday will be the roughest day in Chicago with impact on travel and delays/cancellations at KORD and KMDW.

* Washington D.C. may experience the heaviest snow in over 2 years Wednesday; potential for 1-2 foot amounts northern Virginia and far western Maryland.

* Rain-snow mix brushes Philadelphia and New York City, but brunt of storm and heaviest snows should remain focused over Mid Atlantic Region.

Trail of Trouble. What’s unusual about this storm is the quantity of snow – Alberta Clippers normally drop a few inches with blowing and drifting. It’s unusual to get a 1500 mile long swath of 6-10″, but the slow forward motion of this storm will prolong snow for 36-48 hours from the Upper Midwest into the Great Lakes. Chicago is still in the snowy bulls-eye.

High-Res Models. The latest data suggests the heaviest snowfall amounts may run from Chicago to South Bend to Toledo, where some 10-12″ amounts are likely. Madison and Minneapolis will see plowable accumulations; the heaviest snow bands setting up just south of Milwaukee and Detroit.

Fairly Good Model Agreement. All the weather simulations we track are zeroing in on a final snow tally in the 6-9″ range in the Twin Cities by Tuesday afternoon.

A Rough Tuesday In The Windy City. If you leave now you may get to your destination in the Loop on time tomorrow. The worst travel (land and air) will come during the day Tuesday, with slow improvement Wednesday. Some 6-9″+ amounts are likely.

A Close Call. There is still a chance the clipper – forecast to reintensify into a formidable coastal storm, may impact the New York City area, but right now the most reliable models, the ones we trust the most, push the storm more east than northeast. This will be a big deal for Washington DC and Baltimore; Philadelphia may still see a few slushy inches, but the ECMWF (European) model above, valid Wednesday evening at 7 pm, shows the heaviest snow/rain from south Jersey to the Delmarva Peninsula.

D.C. Gridlock? This time we’re talking about meteorology, not politics. The trend is for Washington D.C. to see more snow with each passing model run. Some 5-10″ amounts are possible in the city, considerably more west of I-270 and I-95 into northern Virginia, where well over a foot of snow may fall. The worst conditions arrive Wednesday in Washington, where a forecast of “flurries” is often cause for panic-buying at grocery stores. Facilities in the D.C. area will be impacted Tuesday night into Thursday morning.

A Pile. The latest NAM model shows some 15-20″ amounts over far northern Virginia along the I-81 corridor. D.C. will probably see a plowable snowfall, and some of the northern/western suburbs, from Leesburg to Gaithersburg to Frederick, may pick up a cool foot or more of slushy wet snow. High water content in the snow coupled with 30+ mph winds increases the potential for downed tree limbs and sporadic power outages in the D.C. area Wednesday.

New York City: Not Entirely Out Of The Woods. My confidence level is still high that New York will avoid the very worst of the storm, but it may be brushed by a rain-snow mix, capable of a sloppy inch or 2 Wednesday night into Thursday. Temperatures will be in the 32-35 range, so major roads may stay mostly-wet. An update later today as new guidance arrives.We’ll keep you posted. Good luck. 

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Every day I sift through hundreds of stories, maps, graphics and meteorological web sites, trying to capture some of the most interesting weather nuggets, the stories behind the forecast. I’ll link to stories and share some of the web sites I use. I’m still passionate about the weather, have been ever since Tropical Storm Agnes flooded my home in Lancaster, PA in 1972. I’ve started 5 weather-related companies. “EarthWatch” created the world’s first 3-D weather graphics for TV stations – Steven Spielberg used our software in “Jurassic Park” and “Twister”. My last company, “Digital Cyclone”, personalized weather for cell phones. “My-Cast” was launched in 2001 and is still going strong on iPhone, Android and Blackberry. I sold DCI to Garmin in 2007 so I could focus on my latest venture: WeatherNation.

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