Environment

Rapidly intensifying storm expected across the Plains, U.S.


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A significant storm system will take shape over the Rockies then rapidly intensify across the Plains late Tuesday and Wednesday, March 12 and 13, 2019, the National Weather Service meteorologists warn. Heavy snow, ice, and strong winds will lead to dangerous travel conditions over the central and northern Plains. Severe thunderstorms capable of damaging winds, large hail, and a few tornadoes are likely from the southern Plains to the lower Mississippi Valley midweek.

Snows persist across the portions of the central Rockies and Great Basin through Monday night as an occluded low moves out of the subtropical Pacific and jumps northeastward into the Intermountain West. Portions of Colorado are expected to receive up to 25 – 50 cm (10 – 20 inches) of new snowfall Monday and Tuesday, NWS forecasters Roth and Santorelli noted 04:49 UTC, March 11. 

A strengthening system to its northwest, responsible for its ejection, brings a new round of coastal rains to the Pacific Northwest Monday night into Tuesday, with interior snows expected near and behind the system’s cold front.

With time, this system merges in with the deepening cyclone developing in the Colorado High Plains which greatly increases snowstorm potential across Colorado.

Temperatures across much of the West and into the Plains should be below to well below normal with expansive surface high pressure across the Central U.S. and the Pacific system moving into the Southwest.

Ahead of the systems impacting the West, a stationary front across the Gulf Coast states and into the Southern Plains brings the promise of showers and thunderstorms in the forecast on Monday and into Tuesday.

As the low in the subtropical Pacific enters the Southwest by Tuesday, showers and thunderstorms increase in coverage across the Southern Plains.

Atmospheric conditions could be favorable to support potentially heavy rainfall and severe weather, especially late Tuesday afternoon into Wednesday.

Both WPC and SPC have highlighted parts of this region within a slight risk for flash flooding and severe thunderstorms, respectively, from Tuesday into early Wednesday.

This system is forecast to consolidate into a significant storm by Wednesday morning, March 13 as it organizes in southeast Colorado, bringing wind-driven snow to portions of northeast Colorado on Wednesday and into the central and northern Plains Wednesday night.

Temperatures across the Upper Midwest are expected to moderate enough to support rainfall over an area with a deep snowpack which could accelerate snowmelt Wednesday night.

In the East, near or above normal temperatures on Monday should moderate by Tuesday as the Central U.S. high pressure area expands eastward.

Snows across the Great Lakes and New England slowly decrease in coverage and intensity as cold, cyclonic flow slowly diminishes Monday into Tuesday.

Featured image credit: GFS, TropicalTidbits

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