SPECIAL REPORT: Winter Weather Awareness


Although some portions of Iowa have already seen accumulating snow, November 8th is Winter Weather Awareness Day in Iowa.

You may look forward to it or you may not, but winter is coming. The Climate Prediction Center released its winter outlook on October 18th. It calls for above normal temperatures. Unfortunately, it gives no indication on if eastern Iowa will see above or below normal snow amounts.

We get our share of different types of precipitation during the winter months: rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow. Even thundersnow. Thundersnow is a type of storm that has similarities to a summertime thunderstorm, but is, obviously, in a much colder setting. Thunder during a snowstorm usually leads to heavier snowfall amounts.

Forecasting the types expected could be the difference of a few degrees.

Freezing rain, for example, needs warm air near the surface but temperatures below freezing at the surface. Elevated surfaces, like trees and telephone poles, are susceptible to freezing first and power outages are a huge concern during a freezing rain event.

Sleet, on the other hand, occurs when snow melts and refreezes through a thicker layer of cold air.

The next concern is the amount of precipitation. This is highly dependent on the track of the low in relation to Iowa. A low that typically develops off the east side of the Rockies, especially in the vicinity of Colorado, is a snowmobiler’s dream. Heavy snow is likely, if the low manages to track between St. Louis and the Quad Cities.

Do you remember the heavy snow producing storm the weekend before Thanksgiving in 2015? This storm produced 10.5” of snow in Waterloo with over a foot of snow in Dubuque making it one of the heaviest snowfalls in November on record.  Any shift north would have brought more of a wintry mix and a shift south would have brought lower snow totals.

The other typical winter low track is an Alberta Clipper. Although these lows may not produce a lot of snow, this light, powdery snow creates treacherous, white out conditions when winds reach over 50 mph

So, before the snow blows and temperatures drop, pack your emergency kit for your car. Blankets, a shovel, extra clothes, extra food are just a few.

The National Weather Service reports that 70% of ice and snow related injuries occur in vehicles. A great rule of thumb to remember: if temperatures are near freezing, drive like you’re on ice.

To read more on Winter Weather Safety, including watching for signs of hypothermia, click here.

For the latest forecast or current information, bookmark www.kwwl.com/weather and stay tuned to KWWL for updates.

2018-11-07 20:50:17

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