A second storm in as many days will bring travel-disrupting snow to parts of the Plains and Midwest from Wednesday into Thursday, and up to a foot of snow could fall across more than a half dozen states, according to AccuWeather forecasters.
The snow and dramatically colder air will mark a big change in most of the area, where temperatures as high as the 60s, and even springlike thunderstorms, were common just a day or two prior.
The storm that will be responsible for the heavy snow was moving across the Southwest on Tuesday, after bringing colder air and accumulating snow to much of the interior West earlier in the week. It is following an initial storm that was triggering thunderstorms across the nation’s midsection on Tuesday. That first storm will bring a severe thunderstorm threat and help usher in a near-record warmth in parts of the South and East on Wednesday and Thursday.
Snow from the first storm will be relegated to the northern Plains and Upper Midwest, including Minnesota and far northwestern Wisconsin into Wednesday. Ahead of the second storm, fresh cold air from Canada will push farther south through the Plains and into the lower Midwest into midweek, setting the stage for accumulating snow.
“Heavy snow will fall along a 1,200-mile stretch of land from eastern Colorado to northern Michigan and affect hundreds of miles of interstates,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.
Denver will be the first major metropolitan area east of the Rockies to experience substantial snow from later Tuesday night through Thursday night. The snow is expected to fall heavy enough in the Mile High City to impact air traffic into and out of the busy Denver International Airport. Accumulations of 6 to 12 inches are expected on most surfaces as temperatures plunge from the 40s during the day on Tuesday to the teens on Wednesday.
The heavier 6- to 12-inch band of accumulating snow will expand east with the storm as it moves from the central Plains and into the Midwest through Thursday, impacting cities such as Salina, Kansas; Des Moines, Iowa; Green Bay and Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Traverse City, Michigan. The AccuWeather LocalStorm Max snowfall total in this zone is predicted to be 18 inches.
Several inches of snow are forecast on either side of the heaviest snow bands in cities such as Omaha, Nebraska; Dubuque, Iowa; Rockford, Illinois; and Grand Rapids, Michigan. While shovels may only be needed instead of snow blowers and plows in this area, the storm will still produce slippery travel conditions.
Chicago, which as of Monday has recorded only about half of its normal snow-to-date this winter (14.2 inches at O’Hare International Airport versus the historical average of 26.4 inches), will be largely spared by the storm, with less than an inch forecast to accumulate there as temperatures struggle to fall below freezing before precipitation ends on Thursday.
Outside of the threat of slick driving conditions brought on by the snow, a drop in temperature along with and behind the storm will imperil motorists and pedestrians, including those in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, on Wednesday night.
“As the slush freezes, ice ruts will form on the roads and add to the hazards for motorists,” said AccuWeather Meteorologist Matt Benz.
This drop in temperature will arrive in Omaha early Wednesday, a mere 36 hours after the mercury rose into the lower 60s Monday afternoon. In Milwaukee, the record high temperature of 55 on Tuesday afternoon will be challenged, then subfreezing temperatures and snow are expected in the city by Thursday morning.
Strong, gusty winds will accompany the snow in many areas as atmospheric pressure drops quickly. This could create near-blizzard conditions for a few hours that will sharply reduce visibility and make for dangerous travel.
Portions of interstates 29, 35, 70, 80, 90 and 94 will be impacted by the snow and wind. Forecasters say motorists should avoid or delay travel in the affected areas as the heavy snow moves through.
It will not take long for the melting process to commence following the storm, as sunshine and milder temperatures are forecast to return later in the week and into the weekend. In Denver, temperatures will surpass the freezing mark on Friday and rise as high as the 50s on Saturday and Sunday. Likewise, in Milwaukee, the mercury will settle into the upper 40s later in the weekend.
Produced in association with AccuWeather.