Terry’s take: Dry conditions ahead, winter grinds on!

Posted on: 10:41 pm, January 14, 2014, by , updated on: 10:44pm, January 14, 2014

Terry Swails Weather Blog

A clipper with a chip on it’s shoulder has brought, wind, cold, and snow back to the Midwest. A peak wind gust of 47 mph was offically measured in the Quad Cities. Here’s what the storm looked like on the MODIS hi-res satellite image at noon Tuesday. Adorned with the classic comma head this feisty beast was dumping 6-11″ snows on central Wisconsin.

1 satellite

Below is the heavy snowfall axis as forecast off the WRF. The model did a very fine job nailing the max snow band.

1 wrf snowfall

While some parts of the Midwest are getting snow, other parts have not seen much. In fact, a large part of the Midwest remains dry, a trend which has been ongoing since last Summer. Much of the heartland from Western Wisconsin and Illinois westward is in abnormally dry to severe drought conditions. This is going to be a concern if we don’t get things turned around before spring arrives.

1 drought

Since December 15th, large parts of Iowa, Minnesota, and NW Missouri have had 50% or less of their normal precipitation. Some spots in western Iowa and Nebraska less than 10%

1 30 day precip

You can see what the problem is by looking at the EURO 500mb jet stream flow. High pressure has been locked over the Pacific NW producing an amplified northwest flow. Moisture is extremely limited until storms can get into the eastern Midwest and tap the gulf. By then, the dynamics are gone and the Ohio Valley and East Coast reap the benefits. Today’s clipper was one of the few systems in the Upper Midwest to get an influx of moisture and even then it never really made it until the system reached Wisconsin.

1 500 euro

Looking ahead, it appears the Midwest can expect more of the same to close out January. Below I have the 16 day precip. forecast off the GFS and it’s the Upper Lakes and Ohio Valley that get the lions share of the rain and snow. High pressure looks to be very dominate. It is going to be challenging to get a storm going in this environment.

1 gfs 384 precip jan 30

The next system that arrives Thursday (another clipper) won’t be much of a snow producer but it will be a wind maker. Check out the pressure gradient Thursday evening. 40mph+ gusts right down the Mississippi River. Where there is powder snow on the ground up north, this storm has the ingredients to produce ground blizzard conditions. In fact, a blizzard watch has already been issued for parts of the Dakotas and western Minnesota.

1 gfs winds 54 Thursday


1 wc


Adding insult to injury will be a shot of cold air that attends the Arctic gales. Wind chills by Friday morning look to be in the range of 10-30 below over the upper Midwest. Just another day in paradise. By the way, there’s plenty more cold where this came from later in January. That’s all for now! T. Swails