A powerful storm system that delivered a blizzard to the west and north and deadly tornadoes to the south is set to dump heavy snow on parts of Wisconsin late Wednesday into Thursday, according to forecasters.
There is some disagreement on how much snow southern Wisconsin will get, but agreement that central and northern Wisconsin will see a few inches to a foot, with the highest totals north and east of a line from Superior to Wausau to north of the Green Bay area, where 8 to 12 inches is expected by the National Weather Service and a winter storm warning is in effect.
Meteorologist Mark Gehring said rain will be changing to snow over southern Wisconsin from 9 p.m. to midnight, with a burst of wet snow totaling 2 to 5 inches falling on Marquette, Green Lake, Fond du Lac, and Sheboygan counties, where a winter weather advisory is in effect from 9 p.m. until 7 a.m.
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Lower totals of 1 to 3 inches are expected from Wisconsin Dells to Columbus to Hartford, with even lesser amounts south of that line and near Lake Michigan. Locations very near Lake Michigan will likely see little to no snow accumulation due to the relatively mild air from the lake, Gehring said.
27 Storm Track meteorologist Max Tsaparis forecasts slushy snow starting from around 9 p.m. to midnight and falling heavily at times, before quickly tapering through Thursday morning. Tsaparis predicts totals of 3 to 6 inches for the Madison area, with 1 to 4 inches to the southwest. Up to an additional inch could fall Friday.
The Weather Service said there’s a 90% chance for rain for south-central Wisconsin on Wednesday, mainly before 11 a.m., totaling a quarter- to half inch, with patchy fog, a high near 43 and southeast winds at 15 to 20 miles per hour, gusting to 35 mph.
Rain and snow showers will fall overnight, with new snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible as the low falls to around 32.
Thursday’s high should be near 34, with a 40% chance of snow showers, rising to 60% Thursday night, when new snow accumulation of around an inch is possible as the low falls to around 27.
The chance for snow showers is 50% Friday, 30% Friday night, and 20% Saturday, followed by quiet and colder conditions.
The Weather Service said skies over Madison should be cloudy Friday, mostly cloudy Saturday, and partly sunny Sunday through Tuesday, with highs near 30, 26, 24, 20 and 16, and lows Friday night through Monday night around 21, 14, 11 and 8.
Tsaparis also forecasts quiet weather after Saturday, with highs Wednesday through Tuesday near 41, 34, 29, 26, 23, 21 and 25, and overnight lows around 30, 25, 21, 12, 7 and 11.
The destructive storm system started by dumping feet of snow in the Sierra Nevada, then moved east and spawned tornadoes that touched down in parts of Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana, where two deaths were reported, delivered blizzard-like conditions to the Great Plains, and threatened more severe weather Wednesday in the South, the Associated Press reported.
In northern Louisiana, a young boy was found dead in a wooded area more than a half-mile from his home in the Keithville area, just south of Shreveport, Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator said. The child’s mother was later found dead one street over from her home, he said.
The child’s father reported them missing from their home, which the sheriff said was demolished in the storm.
“We couldn’t even find the house that he was describing with the address. Everything was gone,” Prator told Shreveport TV station KSLA.
In Farmerville, Louisiana, about 90 miles to the east of Keithville, about 20 people were taken to a hospital, some with critical injuries, after a tornado caused major damage to mobile homes and an apartment complex, the Union Parish Sheriff’s Office told Monroe TV station KNOE.
Wednesday’s forecast calls for more severe storms and potentially additional tornadoes along the central Gulf Coast, including New Orleans and southern Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle,
Earlier Tuesday, five tornadoes were confirmed across north Texas based on video and eyewitness reports, but potentially a dozen may have occurred, the National Weather Service in Fort Worth, Texas, reported.
Dozens of homes and businesses were damaged by the line of thunderstorms, and several people were injured in the suburbs and counties stretching north of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. More than 1,000 flights into and out of area airports were delayed, and over 100 were canceled Tuesday, according to the tracking service FlightAware.
Blizzard warnings stretched from Montana into western Nebraska and Colorado, and the National Weather Service said as much as 2 feet of snow was possible in some areas of western South Dakota and northwestern Nebraska. Winds of more than 50 mph at times will make it impossible to see outdoors in Nebraska, officials said.
“There’s essentially no one traveling right now,” said Justin McCallum, a manager at the Flying J truck stop at Ogallala, Nebraska.
Forecasters expect the storm system to hobble the upper Midwest with ice, rain and snow for days, as well as move into the Northeast and central Appalachians. Residents from West Virginia to Vermont were told to watch out for a possible significant mix of snow, ice and sleet, and the National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch from Wednesday night through Friday afternoon, depending on the timing of the storm.
In Colorado, all roads were closed in the northeast quadrant of the state. The severe weather in the ranching region could also threaten livestock.
A blizzard warning has been issued on Minnesota’s north shore, as some areas are expecting up to 24 inches of snow and wind gusts up to 40 mph. And in the south of the state, winds gusting up to 50 mph had reduced visibility.
National Weather Service meteorologist Melissa Dye in the Twin Cities said this is a “long duration event” with snow, ice and rain through Friday night. Minnesota was expecting a lull Wednesday, followed by a second round of snow.
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