While our unseasonably warm temperatures (boy, does it feel nice to type out) will be the main weather story over these next 48 hours or so, most everyone’s focus has already shifted towards this weekend ahead.
I’ve honestly lost count of how many folks have asked me about our impending “foot of snow” on Saturday. Coincidentally, those questions started only after a nationally televised meteorological television station (that will go unnamed here) indicated that we were all in for “more than 12 inches of snowfall between Friday and Saturday”
Let’s start with the basics, shall we? I’m watching the combination of a potent cold front and associated low that is expected to not only usher in another blast of arctic air late this week, but possibly drop significant amounts of snowfall across parts of the Midwest.
Scattered rainfall and even a few thunderstorms look possible on Thursday as temperatures flirting with the low 60s interact with the advancing cold front. As that cold front passes to our east late that night, the chilly air behind it will gradually transition that rainfall into freezing rain, sleet and eventually snow.
Our first dose of wintry mix and snowfall will last through the overnight hours Thursday into late Friday morning; the main event (if it arrives at all) won’t reach us until late Friday evening.
Cold air wrapping around the passing low will mix with the ample amount of gulf moisture associated with the system which, unlike our previous snowfall events this winter, will generate a heavy and wet snow.
The low will continue on its track northeastward towards New England; by early Saturday afternoon, the majority of the organized snowfall will have departed to our east, bringing an end to the potentially significant winter storm.
Now, you may have noticed me using terms such as “possibly,” “if,” and “potentially;” that’s simply because there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the system in question and its impacts on our region.
Not only are we more than 48 hours out from the beginning of the primary event, but we find ourselves straddling an area of the state that could be significantly affected by the smallest of diversions from the lows current track.
There is still a significant disparity between model data at this point as well. The model above shows little more than a dusting for some of us while others may receive as much as 2” of accumulation. Additional models, on the other hand, have depicted a very different situation.
The latest European Model composite, which has vastly reduced its projections from earlier model runs, still has portions of Greater Lafayette seeing as much as 5” of total snowfall accumulation by Saturday afternoon!
At this point, I’m not sold on it. Will we see snowfall? It’s more than likely; but by no means is a significant winter storm a foregone conclusion for the weekend ahead. It’s simply just too early to give more than general timeline and a vague idea of expected accumulations.
Though, I will say that those snow totals completely depend upon the exact track of our anticipated low. If the system wobbles 100 miles east, we may receive nothing at all; if it bounces 100 miles to the west however, that would make for a very interesting weekend ahead.
Weather Team 18 will continue to update on the situation as it evolves over the coming days.