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Winter Relapse: Near-Blizzard Conditions Chicago & Detroit to Buffalo Today

12 Mar 2014, 4:57 am

Wednesday, March 12th: Morning update

* Heaviest snow impacts Chicago between now and 8 AM Wednesday, but strong winds behind the storm will trigger blowing/drifting into early afternoon as temperatures tumble into the teens with a wind chill near zero at times. I expect 4-6″ in Chicago, only 1-2″ closer to Libertyville and Waukegan, but as much as 8″ possible on the south side. Expect widespread delays and cancellations at O’Hare and Midway today.
South Bend picks up closer to 8-10″ of snow with near blizzard conditions during the morning hours Wednesday.
Detroit will pick up 6-10″ of snow with widespread impacts on travel, land and air. The heaviest snow is over by mid afternoon.
Cleveland is expecting 7-12″ of snow with serious blowing and drifting into the afternoon hours as sustained winds top 30 mph. Conditions slowly improve during the day Thursday.
Blizzard Warnings are now posted for Buffalo and Rochester, New York, expecting 12-18″ of snow with white-out conditions from Wednesday evening into early Thursday.

Snowfall Overview. The models have come into alignment, showing the heaviest amounts of snow from South Bend and Toledo to Detroit, Cleveland and much of upstate New York and northern New England. This will be a plowable to crippling storm for a time this morning in Chicago and Detroit, a crippling event for Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and much of New England. Map: NOAA and Ham Weather.

Boston will see heavy rain, ending as a couple inches of snow Wednesday night.
New York City sees showers, even a thundershower later today, a few hours of snow Wednesday night as temperatures drop sharply.

Credit: WeatherBell

Chicago: Heaviest Amounts South Side. As we predicted a couple days ago, the heaviest snow bands are still expected south of The Loop, with some 8-9″ amounts possible near Joliet, Kankakee and Chicago Heights. It may be tough measuring that snow as it blows around today – I still expect enough (4-6″) for widespread delays and cancellations at ORD and MDW. Travel on Chicago’s expressways will fall somewhere between treacherous and ridiculous. Expect gridlock, especially for the AM commute Wednesday. WRF data above: Weatherbell.

Credit: WeatherBell

January Flash-Back. The heaviest snow band may pass just south of Detroit, but I still expect debilitating amounts of snow and wind in the Motor City, as much as 8″ on the south side. As much as 10-12″ may fall from near South Bend and Toledo to Cleveland by Wednesday afternoon. Factor in sustained winds of 30 mph and visibilities dropping under 1/4 mile, and near-blizzard conditions may result: most cities seeing a 3-6 hour burst of heavy snow morning and midday, with snow falling at the rate of 2″/hour. Credit: WeatherBell


Swath of Wintry Mayhem. Here’s an overview of where the worst travel conditions will be today, the bright red areas showing blizzard or near-blizzard conditions. Most cities will only see 4-6 hours of heavy snow, but strong winds behind the storm will spark blowing and drifting into the afternoon and evening hours today. Expect significant improvement Thursday. BPI summary above: Ham Weather.

Blizzard Warnings. NOAA has upgraded the Winter Storm Warning to a Blizzard Warning for Buffalo and Rochester, with no travel advised later today and tonight as visibilities drop to near zero at times.  Check the WeatherNation Interactive map  for the latest advisories.  

Backwards Winter of 2014: More Snow In New York City Than Anchorage? The snowfall numbers above are as of Tuesday, March 11. Detroit will pick up another 5-7″, taking them over 90″ for the winter, on their way to the snowiest winter on record? Chicago will add 3-6″, making it the 3rd snowiest winter. Our 58″ seems almost reasonable by comparison. In today’s edition of Climate Matters we asked WeatherNation viewers for subtle signs of spring. We got more than we bargained for: “WeatherNationTV Chief Meteorologist Paul Douglas goes over your Facebook comments about the sluggish start to Spring. We’re all dreading it, yet *another* winter storm is forecast to impact the Ohio Valley and parts of the Northeast Tuesday night through Thursday. Hurry up Spring!

Slight Severe Thunderstorm Risk. On the warm side of the storm there may be sufficient instability and wind shear for a few supercell thunderstorms, capable of large hail and damaging (straight-line) winds. The threat of tornadoes is low, but not zero. The threat area includes Roanoke, Richmond, Washington D.C., Baltimore, Harrisburg and Philadelphia. Expect severe storm watches to be issued by afternoon for this region with warnings likely as a squall line pushes east by the dinner hour. Check the Storm Prediction Center  for updates.

We’ll keep you posted with situation reports during the day Wednesday as the storm unfolds. Good luck – be safe out there.

Paul Douglas – Senior Meteorologist – Alerts Broadcaster

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