By Alex Sosnowski, Expert Senior Meteorologist
January 29, 2013
Snow and a Return of Arctic Air
As colder air begins an eastward drive across the Plains, storms running along the advancing air will bring a swath of snow Tuesday into Wednesday from central and northeastern Kansas to southeastern Nebraska, northwestern Missouri, much of Iowa, southeastern Minnesota, much of Wisconsin, Upper Michigan and central Ontario.
While snow is forecast to generally be on the light side in Kansas City and Omaha, up to half a foot of snow can fall on portions of Iowa, including Des Moines, central Wisconsin, including Eau Clair and Green Bay, and Marquette, Mich.
Slow and slippery travel can be expected along a long stretch of I-35 and portions of I-80, I-90 and I-94.
The snow precedes a blast of arctic air that will be accompanied by strong winds. Temperatures will dip below zero before the end of the week from Nebraska and Iowa on north.
Any untreated wet and slushy areas will freeze.
Temperatures may struggle to climb above zero in Minneapolis on Thursday and may stay well below zero in Fargo from Wednesday evening through Friday morning.
Meanwhile, temperatures in Chicago and Kansas City reached record high levels prior to sunrise Tuesday. The air coming in Wednesday will have tremendous shock value. Chicago is likely to have at least two days where high temperatures are no better than the teens Thursday and Friday.
Moisture for the Mississippi River
In St. Louis, Mo., there is a risk of damaging thunderstorms amidst the warm air Tuesday. However, the same system bringing the warmth and thunder may also contribute to needed rain on tributaries of the Mississippi River in the region.
A couple of inches of rain could fall on the Illinois River basin, which feeds into the Mississippi River above St. Louis. River levels on the Mississippi were flirting with record lows much of the winter. Frigid air and a hard freeze moving in will lock up the water quickly. However, any upward movement of the river levels, no matter how brief would be a boost for transportation on the ailing waterway.
Rain will also fall on other rivers in Missouri, including the river by the same name that feeds into the Mississippi above and below Cairo, Ill.