Update: Blizzard-like snows possible Tuesday, Wednesday
JANESVILLE—National Weather Service officials said weather conditions are stacking up for a winter storm early this week that could dump historic snowfalls throughout southern Wisconsin.
Rock and Walworth counties could get socked with 15 to 18 inches of snow in two waves, with the National Weather Service predicting a smaller, weaker snow system to enter overnight, with snowfalls throughout Monday afternoon and into Tuesday expected to drop snow accumulations of 4 to 6 inches.
But a much stronger low-pressure system could knife up from the lower Midwest throughout Tuesday, pushing moist Gulf air into frigid air from the north, forecasters said.
That system could bring an additional foot of snowfall throughout southern Wisconsin late Tuesday and early Wednesday, with possible blizzard-like conditions developing.
“If it plays out like we’re thinking, it could be a historic storm for sure. It could trump the storm of (Feb. 5-6) 2008, when I-90 backed up,” said Mark Gehring, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Sullivan.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory from 3 p.m. Monday to 3 p.m. Tuesday with a blizzard watch in effect from Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday afternoon.
Forecasters say snow from the storm is expected to be light and powdery, which means it could pile up faster and blow around more.
Gehring said winds in will begin to whip up in tandem with increasing snows Tuesday afternoon, with gusts of 35 to 40 mph expected to come overnight and into Wednesday during the period of heaviest expected snowfall.
Gehring said driving conditions could become extremely dangerous late Tuesday and into Wednesday morning, with blowing snow creating near-whiteout conditions and possible five to eight-foot-deep drifts in flat areas.
Wind chill is expected to cut temperatures to around zero degrees early Wednesday. “It could be near blizzard conditions if not blizzard in flat areas. Nobody should be traveling come Tuesday night and much of the day Wednesday,” said Gehring.
National Weather Service Meteorologist Chris Kuhlman said one weather model shows that the strong low pressure system Tuesday and Wednesday could skirt further south, which may lessen snowfalls a few inches in southern Wisconsin, particularly along Lake Michigan, where lake effect snows are expected as well.
But Kuhlman said heavy snows are likely in any case.
“It (Tuesday and Wednesday’s snow system) has been consistently trending further north, which puts the heaviest snow band further into Wisconsin,” he said.