We have a very active weather situation setting up for today which includes a severe weather potential in the Middle Mississippi River Valley, Blizzards in the Central Plains and Front Range of the Rockies and an increased threat for wildfires across much of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.
This active weather is due to a low pressure system that will move out of the Central Plains and into the Great Lakes region over the next 24 hours. This system has a good deal of energy; hence the reason for the variety of weather.
The ongoing snows this morning in the Front Range and Plains across Colorado and into Wyoming will taper off this afternoon while the snow will continue in Nebraska and Northwestern Kansas. While snowfall totals are not that impressive, strong winds cause blowing snow and reduced visibilities. Thus blizzard warnings are in effect where winds are sustained winds of 25 to 35 mph and gusts between 50 and 60 mph are possible and will reduce visibilities to less than a quarter of a mile. Where wind speeds and visibilities are below blizzard criteria, winter weather advisories and winter storm warnings are in effect. (see graphic below for the current set of winter advisories and warnings as of 10 am CST.)
Another component of this system is the threat for severe weather ahead of the Low Pressure System. NWS Storm Prediction Center has identified an “Enhanced” area of concern for parts of Iowa, Illinois and Missouri for later this afternoon and into tonight. A broader slight risk of severe weather extends across most of the Mississippi River Valley.
While an isolated tornado or two is possible (as shown by the 5% areas in the graphic below),
damaging winds are the main weather threat with thunderstorm development. A 30% risk of damaging winds is expected in the “enhanced” risk area.
Even if you do not see severe thunderstorm, wind gusts (which is in excess of 58 mph) will be common behind the cold front and the western side of the low pressure system today and tonight. Wind gusts ranging between 45 to 58 mph (40 to 50 kts.) can be expected from South Dakota to Oklahoma this afternoon and into Minnesota and Missouri and Illinois tonight.
Behind the front, with very strong winds and dramatically falling moisture levels the spread of wildfires becomes a concern. An elevated risk of rapid wildfire spread exists for Kansas to Texas and even New Mexico Today.
We recommend that individuals be highly cautious with any activities that may generate sparks. This includes harvesting operations. Also we recommend no outdoor burning activities today and ensure that you dispose of cigarette/cigar butts properly. If you do see a potential fire, contact your local 911/and or fire department immediately as this fires will move quickly.
The team at WxIntegrations will continue to provide relevant information and resources to help you better understand and prepare by incorporating weather impacts into your planning and response.