Major winter storm developing; perilous conditions Thursday afternoon

A major winter storm, a real powerhouse event,  is brewing  in the Missouri Valley tonight.  The track of the surface low puts eastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin in line for blizzard conditions as we move through Thursday into Thursday night.

Blizzard conditions are defined as falling or blowing snow reducing the visibility to a quarter mile or less for several hours.  Winds will frequently gust to more than 35 mph.

The surface pressure falls this evening indicate the center of the low will continue to strengthen near Kansas City, Mo., overnight.

Falling pressure
Pressure falls at 7 p.m. CST. Image:NOAA Storm Prediction Center.

Snowfall totals will be difficult to measure due to blowing and drifting snow. The heaviest accumulations of 10 inches or more are currently expected from about Rochester toward Hayward, Wis.


There is the potential for 8 inches of snow in the eastern communities of the Twin Cities metro.

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8 inch snow band
NOAA's forecast of the potential for 8 inches or more of snow in the next 24 hours.

The evening computer model runs maintain a path of the center of lowest pressure through southern Wisconsin Thursday evening.

forecast track
Consensus track of low pressure center from NOAA.

Simulated radar reflectivity from the Rapid Update Cycle model paint precipitation increasing in coverage and intensity around noon on Thursday.

Simulated reflectivity of precipitation at noon on Thursday. Image:NOAA/College of Dupage.
North American Model
North American Model depicts the strong surface low in Wisconsin at noon on Thursday. Image:NOAA/College of Dupage.

Do not be caught off guard if precipitation is not falling heavily during the  morning drive time.  Freezing rain and sleet is possible in southeast Minnesota in the morning hours.

Bursts of heavy snow are expected from late morning through the evening hours.  Northwest winds will  howl, gusting over over 40 mph by Thursday evening.

White out conditions, after dark, particularly  in eastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin, will make travel extremely difficult, even on main roads.

You can track details on this developing storm at the National Weather Service web link.