Paul Douglas is a nationally respected meteorologist with 33 years of television and radio experience. A serial entrepreneur, Douglas is Senior Meteorologist for WeatherNation TV, a new, national 24/7 weather channel with studios in Denver and Minneapolis. Founder of Media Logic Group, Douglas and a team of meteorologists provide weather services for media at Broadcast Weather, and high-tech alerting and briefing services for companies via Alerts Broadcaster. His speaking engagements take him around the Midwest with a message of continuous experimentation and reinvention, no matter what business you’re in. He is the public face of “SAVE”, Suicide Awareness, Voices of Education, based in Bloomington. | Send Paul a question.

Blizzard Update: Iowa and Wisconsin Closed Until Further Notice

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: December 20, 2012 - 11:59 AM

Mad-Town Buried. Thanks to Matt Porcelli for sharing this FB photo from Madison, Wisconsin. Wow.

 

The blizzard we’ve been telling you about for a few days is pushing across Iowa into southern and central Wisconsin; winds over 40 mph dropping visibilities down to zero with treacherous to impassable travel conditions. Interstates are still shut down from near Omaha and Lincoln across much of Iowa. An estimated 30,000 people in Iowa are without power – I expect power outages to overspread Wisconsin by midday and afternoon. The heaviest snow falls over the next 8-12 hours with conditions gradually improving on Friday as snow tracks northeast and winds ease. The Twin Cities picked up 1-2” of snow but conditions there are improving. Rochester saw closer to 5-6”, but snow will taper by afternoon.

It’s the biggest snowfall for Iowa in 3 years. Cities experiencing the greatest impacts from snow, ice and blizzard conditions: Waterloo, Quad Cities, Madison, Milwaukee, Wisconsin Dells.

Chicago will continue to see numerous flight delays and cancellations (2 hour delays right now) due to heavy rain and T-storms – winds in the Windy City may top 60 mph by late afternoon or evening. Lake Shore Flood Warnings are posted for Lake Michigan – Porter, County Indiana will be hardest hit – coastal beach erosion and flooding may rival damage from Sandy. Details below:

 

White-Out Conditions. Many roads are impassable from Omaha to Des Moines, and blizzard conditions (35 mph+ winds and visibilities under ¼ mile in falling/blowing snow) are quickly overspreading northwestern Illinois and Wisconsin into the afternoon and evening hours. Chicago will avoid heavy snow, but high winds will wreak havoc on air travel into Friday – gusts over 60 mph. possible tonight into Friday morning with a couple inches of snow possible at the tail-end of the storm.

 

Doppler Radar. Late morning NOAA Doppler radar shows the heaviest snow bands setting up over eastern Iowa, northwestern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. I’m concerned about power outages in Madison and Milwaukee, where snow has been accompanied by thunder and lightning (snow falling at the rate of 1-3”/hour at times). This is a heavy, wet snow – which may increase the risk of tree limbs and power lines coming down into the nighttime hours.

 

Total Snowfall Amounts. We’ve been analyzing the models, and the map above does a good job of summarizing snow totals from this blizzard; heaviest amounts from eastern Iowa to Madison and Milwaukee into northern Lower Michigan. As much as 16-18” snow may pile up from near Madison to Milwaukee and Green Bay, whipped into 3-4 foot drifts by 50+ mph winds.

 

Additional Snow Today. This model shows the additional snow forecast to fall by tonight, on top of what has already fallen. Again, southern and eastern Wisconsin will bear the brunt of today’s blizzard – conditions slowly improving tomorrow. Map: WSI RPM model.

 

Wild Extremes. From tornadoes in Mobile to a full-blown blizzard over the Midwest, today's storm is complicating travel plans, whipping up potentially dangerous weather from Madison and Chicago to the Florida Panhandle.

 

Travel Conditions. Travel isn’t advised from Omaha across nearly all of Iowa into far northwest Illinois and southern Wisconsin. For the latest highway conditions click here.

 

Power Outages. Thousands of residents of Iowa are without power right now. For the latest details from The Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives click here. I expect power outages to spread into Wisconsin and northwestern Illinois by afternoon and evening as winds increase. Rockford may be impacted, with some power outages in the Chicago area as well.

 

Isolated Tornado Risk. By now you’ve heard about the damaging tornadoes that swept into Mobile during the early morning hours. Portions of I-65 had to be shut down due to debris. I expect a few more tornadoes today from Montgomery to Macon and Savannah, impacting the Florida Panhandle as well. A couple of these tornadoes may be large, violent and long-lasting.

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