• DATVF.ATLPHL
    1.643
    -0.074
    -4.3%
  • DATVF.CHIATL
    1.951
    0.018
    0.9%
  • DATVF.DALLAX
    0.880
    0.015
    1.7%
  • DATVF.LAXDAL
    1.501
    0.007
    0.5%
  • DATVF.SEALAX
    0.966
    -0.092
    -8.7%
  • DATVF.PHLCHI
    0.929
    -0.038
    -3.9%
  • DATVF.LAXSEA
    2.005
    0.035
    1.8%
  • DATVF.VEU
    1.508
    -0.031
    -2%
  • DATVF.VNU
    1.395
    -0.016
    -1.1%
  • DATVF.VSU
    1.191
    0.011
    0.9%
  • DATVF.VWU
    1.486
    -0.028
    -1.8%
  • ITVI.USA
    9,836.710
    -180.070
    -1.8%
  • OTRI.USA
    4.790
    0.100
    2.1%
  • OTVI.USA
    9,831.280
    -180.470
    -1.8%
  • TLT.USA
    2.410
    -0.010
    -0.4%
  • WAIT.USA
    150.000
    0.000
    0%
  • DATVF.ATLPHL
    1.643
    -0.074
    -4.3%
  • DATVF.CHIATL
    1.951
    0.018
    0.9%
  • DATVF.DALLAX
    0.880
    0.015
    1.7%
  • DATVF.LAXDAL
    1.501
    0.007
    0.5%
  • DATVF.SEALAX
    0.966
    -0.092
    -8.7%
  • DATVF.PHLCHI
    0.929
    -0.038
    -3.9%
  • DATVF.LAXSEA
    2.005
    0.035
    1.8%
  • DATVF.VEU
    1.508
    -0.031
    -2%
  • DATVF.VNU
    1.395
    -0.016
    -1.1%
  • DATVF.VSU
    1.191
    0.011
    0.9%
  • DATVF.VWU
    1.486
    -0.028
    -1.8%
  • ITVI.USA
    9,836.710
    -180.070
    -1.8%
  • OTRI.USA
    4.790
    0.100
    2.1%
  • OTVI.USA
    9,831.280
    -180.470
    -1.8%
  • TLT.USA
    2.410
    -0.010
    -0.4%
  • WAIT.USA
    150.000
    0.000
    0%
NewsWeather

Spring snow may hit the Midwest this weekend

  (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)
(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

After a beautiful week of warm weather with temperatures in the 60s and 70s, Mother Nature could pull a Cher and “turn back time” in the Midwest this weekend. There’s a good chance that spring will “do a 180” back to winter, dropping temperatures like a rock and dumping snow along the way. It probably won’t be the storm of the century with hustle and bustle screeching to a halt, but the storm could make for some sloppy travel.

 SONAR Road Conditions: Saturday, April 27, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. EDT. Estimated region of snowfall Saturday morning through Saturday night outlined in red.
SONAR Road Conditions: Saturday, April 27, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. EDT. Estimated region of snowfall Saturday morning through Saturday night outlined in red.

The Culprit

All indications show a compact, fairly powerful low pressure system and cold front heading out of South Dakota late Friday night (April 26, 2019), making a bee-line for parts of the Midwest on Saturday. The storm will likely spread snow from west to east across the following areas from morning through the evening – eastern South Dakota, southern Minnesota, northeastern Iowa, southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. The snow will fade in these areas after midnight Saturday night as it moves into southern Michigan.

The storm will contain plenty of energy and moisture. Temperatures at the ground and aloft will be warm enough for precipitation to begin as rain early Saturday. Meteorologists at the National Weather Service (NWS) expect cold, Canadian air to keep temperatures in the 30s across the region – around 30 degrees below normal for late April – but should stay at or just above freezing, marginally cold enough to support snowfall. The heavy precipitation is expected to cool the mid-atmosphere enough to overcome the relatively warmer surface, quickly changing the rain to heavy, wet snow. This process is called “dynamic cooling.”

Where To Be On The Look-Out

The NWS issued Winter Storm Watches for many of the areas previously mentioned, and may add more. Snow totals as high as six inches are possible along and south of the I-90 corridor (south of Minneapolis-St. Paul), with localized accumulations of eight to nine inches. Snowfall rates could reach one to two inches per hour with wind gusts of 35 mph, leading to blowing snow and reduced visibility.

Some of the Minnesota cities in the potential snow path are Marshall, Mankato and Rochester; in Iowa it’s along a path from Mason City to Dubuque; in Wisconsin it’s La Crosse, Prairie du Chien, Madison and Milwaukee; in Illinois it’s the far northern Chicago suburbs.

 SONAR Road Conditions: Saturday, April 27, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. EDT. Many roads in the path of the winter storm shown as wet, slushy or possibly closed.
SONAR Road Conditions: Saturday, April 27, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. EDT. Many roads in the path of the winter storm shown as wet, slushy or possibly closed.

Rare Sight?

Late season snow storms aren’t unprecedented in these parts of the Midwest. In early May 2013, many Minnesotans and Wisconsonites got quite a storm that set all-time monthly records for these states, with several places receiving 12 to 18 inches. Compared to this, Saturday’s storm may only cause minor travel problems, along with new memories of a spring snowstorm that people can talk about in church on Sunday or at the water cooler on Monday.

Stay Informed

Although there’s a high level of confidence among forecasters regarding the outcome of the storm, everything depends on its precise track, which could shift at the last minute, sometimes within just a few hours of striking. Also, it can be tricky for computer models to determine precipitation type and snow amounts this time of the year since spring hasn’t fully settled into the Midwest. The models are not gospel, but meteorologists use them for guidance when forecasting.

Stay in the loop and check here for the latest official winter weather alerts from the NWS, and get the latest chain laws here. Also, look for weather updates on the FreightWaves website.

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Nick Austin, Director of Weather Analytics and Senior Meteorologist

In his 17 years of weather forecasting experience, Nick worked on air at WBBJ-TV and WRCB-TV, including time spent doing weather analysis and field reporting. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from Georgia Institute of Technology. Nick is also a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” for eight consecutive years. Nick earned his National Weather Association Broadcasting Seal in 2005.
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