Strong winter storm just under way over north-central United States

Kansas City, Mo. – Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012 – NOAA forecasters said just about everybody in the United States will experience some type of precipitation today, with plenty of stormy weather to go around.

The variety of storm systems will include:

  • A very powerful winter storm forecast to bring blizzard conditions to the northern Plains and Great Lakes today and Wednesday, including heavy snow and strong winds
  • Freezing rain in southern portions of that storm
  • Severe thunderstorms in the central Plains
  • Rain and thunderstorms over much of the eastern half of the country
  • Heavy snow along the Pacific Coast from Washington to central California
  • Red Flag Warnings for parts of the central and southern Plains
  • High Wind Warnings and Wind Advisories for the central and southern Plains

See today’s Hazards Map at http://www.weather.gov/largemap.php and the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center threats map at http://origin.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/noaa/noaad1.gif.

Forecasters said a disturbance currently centered over the desert Southwest is moving rapidly to the northeast. It strengthened considerably when it reached the lee of the Rocky Mountains and began interacting with increasingly moist air from the Gulf of Mexico. The result will be blizzard conditions with up to two feet of snow, 40-45 mph winds from this afternoon through Wednesday morning. High winds will cause drifting snow and whiteout conditions, making travel extremely dangerous.

A band of freezing rain and sleet is forecast for areas just south of the snow with ¼ to ½- inch of ice possible over central Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

Severe weather and flooding are also possible today and Wednesday due to the moist and unstable air mass moving north from the Gulf.

Updated forecasts from NOAA’s National Weather Service offices in the path of the winter storm show conditions to have continued to strengthen. Snow accumulation updates include:

  • Grand Junction, CO – 10-20 inches over western Colorado; 24 inches plus in the southwest San Juan Mountains
  • Riverton, WY – 3-5 inches today over northwest and central Wyoming
  • Cheyenne, WY – widespread 6-9 inches over the mountain areas; 3-5 inches over the Arlington and Elk Mountains
  • Bismarck, ND – 6-10 inches along a Hettinger-Bismarck-Carrington line; 5 inches from Bowman to Dickerson and Garrison
  • Grand Forks, ND – 3-5 inches along the Canadian border; 10-14 inches south of the I-90 corridor
  • Aberdeen, SD – 6-16 inches over north-central and northeast south Dakota and west-central Minnesota; 1-6 inches from Kennebec to Ortonville
  • Rapid City, SD – 5-8 inches over northeast Wyoming and Southwest South Dakota
  • Sioux Falls, SD – 4-8 inches by Wednesday on top of .1-.2 inch of ice
  • Duluth, MN – 8-13 inches over northwest Wisconsin; 4-8 inches over the north-central mountains
  • Minneapolis, MN – 10-15 inches over south-central Minnesota
  • La Crosse, WI – 6-12 inches north of Highway 10 in north-central Wisconsin; rain and sleet south of Interstate 90
  • Green Bay, WI – 8-12 inches for central and east-central Wisconsin, 6-12 inches north of a Marshfield to Shawano to Oconto line
  • Milwaukee, WI – Milwaukee will be south of the storm, expect 1-3 inches to the north
  • Marquette, MI – 6-10 inches or more for Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
  • Gaylord, MI – 2-3 inches for the northern Lower Peninsula with up to ¼- inch of ice
  • Grand Rapids, MI – Several inches of snow capped by ¼-inch or more of ice

Web-based local storm presentations may be found on several office web pages including:

Grand Forks – http://www.crh.noaa.gov/news/display_cmsstory.php?wfo=fgf&storyid=79622&source=0

Duluth – http://www.crh.noaa.gov/news/display_cmsstory.php?wfo=dly&storyid=21752&source=0

Outside the major storm area, forecasters said there will also be heavy snow today inparts of Utah, New Mexico, Arizona and the Pacific Northwest.

Graphics of short-term winter weather forecasts from NOAA’s Hydrometeorological Prediction Center may be found at http://www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/wwd/winter_wx.shtml.

Forecasters at NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center identified two areas at Slight Risk of severe weather development today and Wednesday.

Tuesday’s risk area includes parts of Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi. See Storm Prediction Center severe weather outlook graphic at: http://www.spc.noaa.gov/products/outlook/day1otlk.html.

For Wednesday, the risk area includes parts of Missouri, Arkansas, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. See graphic at http://www.spc.noaa.gov/products/outlook/day2otlk.html.

Readings from NOAA’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Center showed 5 river gauge sites around the country at some level of flooding. Two river gauge sites were at Major Flood and three were at Minor Flood. Eleven gauge sites were Near Flood. See map at http://water.weather.gov/ahps/index.php?stage=7.

Precipitation forecasts and graphics are available at http://www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/qpf/qpf2.shtml.

Access to local National Weather Service information is available by selecting the appropriate office location at http://weather.gov. All segments of the U.S. weather and flood forecasts and outlooks are available through the NOAAWatch briefing page at http://www.noaawatch.gov/briefing.php.

Contact:  Public Affairs Specialist Patrick Slattery (816) 268-3135



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