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Wisconsin Weather

Wisconsin Preparing for Major Storm and Wind this Weekend

By Justin Poublon
February 22, 2019 - 3:45 PM CST | 3,939   0

WISCONSIN - beginning Saturday a strong low pressure system will track from Colorado to through southern Wisconsin into Michigan. The storm will intensify as it passes through, potentially reaching sub-980mb strength northeast of Wisconsin. The storm will produce a long list of hazards:

Timing of the storm this weekend.
Timing of the storm this weekend.

1. Heavy Snow Band North

Saturday night into Sunday rain will change into a narrow but heavy band of snow from Rochester MN to Eau Claire to Eagle River. I predict 6-12" along this line with the heaviest amounts in far northern Wisconsin. Snow will continue through Sunday in upper Michigan with one to two feet of snow due to lake effect/enhancement. In central and northeast Wisconsin a sharp cutoff is expected. Even just a 20 miles shift will make a huge difference so it would be a good idea to keep an eye on it. On Sunday wrap around will bring light snow to a bigger portion of Wisconsin. Only minor additional accumulations are expected (trace if lucky south).

Updated snowfall as on 10:30AM Saturday, feb 23. Storm total snow accumulation.
Updated snowfall as on 10:30AM Saturday, feb 23. Storm total snow accumulation.

2. Freezing Rain & Ice Potential Central Saturday

UPDATE 10:40AM SAT - So far only minor/localized freezing rain reported mainly on exposed/elevated surfaces. Roads generally seems to be okay overall.

Freezing rain forecasts are always very delicate. A warm front will push north across Wisconsin on Saturday. Morning lows in the 20°s will warm into the 30°s (40°s south). Along and north of the warm front there will be an opportunity for freezing rain. I expect at least some ice accumulation on elevated surfaces Saturday morning, possibly roads as well.

Freezing rain is possible across Wisconsin on Saturday though certainty is relatively low. Please monitor our facebook page for the latest information.
Freezing rain is possible across Wisconsin on Saturday though certainty is relatively low. Please monitor our facebook page for the latest information.

All models show the potential for ice accumulation over central/northeast Wisconsin Saturday. It could be more than 0.25" in spots. There are reasons to second guess the significance of this threat. Freezing rain forms due to a tiny layer of below freezing temps near the surface. 1-2°F warmer and it's plain old rain. This is a pretty classic freezing rain temperature profile so it bares watching. I will be watching this threat closely as it evolves tomorrow and let you know if we need to escalate the message.

SKU T diagram showing just how tiny but critical the temperature profile of the atmosphere will be Saturday. LITERALLY 1-2F warmer and it's all rain. If it happens as forecast then we will have ice.
SKEW-T diagram showing just how critical the temperature profile of the atmosphere will be Saturday. LITERALLY 1-2F warmer and it's all rain. If it happens as forecast then we will have ice. The purple line is 32F.

3. Rain Central & South - Fog Possible

Rainfall of 0.5-1.0" is expected over southern and central Wisconsin on Saturday. Dense fog may develop due melting snow and rising temperatures. The dry slot reduces rain to a drizzle by late Saturday night. The combination of snow cover and frozen soil will impede rainwater from soaking into the ground. Rain becomes runoff which leads to standing water, localized flooding, and ponding in low lying areas. Be advised if you plan to travel Saturday night as puddles can sneak up on you while driving. You can help by making sure storm drains are clear of snow and debris.

Rain across southern Wisconsin with the potential for a thunderstorm in the southeast.
Rain across southern Wisconsin with the potential for a thunderstorm in the southeast.

Highs in the 30-40s expected in southern Wisconsin Saturday. This could lead to melting snow and fog development.
Highs in the 30-40s expected in southern Wisconsin Saturday. This could lead to melting snow and fog development.

Also, a thunderstorm or two with small hail will be possible along the I-43 corridor in southeast Wisconsin. Severe weather is not expected.

Our first thunderstorm outlook of 2019!
Our first thunderstorm outlook of 2019!

4. Wind Gusts of 45-55 MPH on Sunday

Westerly winds will strengthen quickly on Sunday as the storm departs. Wind gusts up to 45-55 MPH will be common across the state. The strongest gusts would likely be in elevated/exposed areas such as the Niagara escarpment in eastern Wisconsin, Washington Island. Expect sporadic power outages ESPECIALLY if ice accumulations earlier in the weekend. Also blowing snow and difficult travel conditions on Sunday due to the wind.

Wind gusts of 45-55 mph across Wisconsin with stronger gusts possibly over high points and exposed areas in eastern Wisconsin.
SUNDAY -Wind gusts of 45-55 mph across Wisconsin with stronger gusts possibly over high points and exposed areas in eastern Wisconsin.

A strong cold front will move through Sunday turning any leftover puddles/water into ice. Lookout for icy spots on untreated roads Sunday night/Monday!

BE PREPARED - PLAN AHEAD

It's Wisconsin. Winter storms happen. This storm will have multiple hazards statewide and everyone will be impacted in some way. We write these detailed stories so you can be prepared and plan ahead. If you want more information; our members have access to a technical discussion and hazard maps located here.

WARNINGS & ADVISORIES

AT 530AM SAT FEB 23

530am SAT warnings and advisories
530am SAT warnings and advisories

IMPORTANT LINKS

For the latest radar, click here

For the latest warnings, click here

For storm reports over the last 24 hours, click here

For storm chaser video, click here

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