Week after week, the U.S. has been pummeled by severe winter weather since December – and this week will be no exception.
Some of the coldest air of the season will plummet southward and combine with another storm developing over the southern Plains. An intense surface low will develop over north Texas and pull abundant warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico into the frigid Arctic air diving southward into the Plains.
The result: blizzard conditions, heavy snow, ice storms and tornadoes. This storm appears to be another one for the record books.
Very heavy snow will fall from Oklahoma northeastward through Kansas, Missouri and Illinois. Snow accumulations here will be measured in feet, not in inches.
Blizzard or near-blizzard conditions are expected as far south as Oklahoma City on Tuesday. The National Weather Service forecast office in Norman, Oklahoma, warns that a “potentially dangerous winter situation” is developing with travel becoming extremely dangerous or impossible across the state by Tuesday morning. Heavy snow and blowing and drifting snow will combine with strong, gusty winds to create whiteout conditions at times.
Blizzard conditions will also be possible in Chicago. This storm could be one of the top 10 biggest snowstorms ever in the Windy City with snowfall accumulations of 15 to 20 inches and isolated higher amounts possible. The biggest snow storm in Chicago’s history occurred from January 26-27, 1967, when 23 inches of snow fell on the city.
According to the National Weather Service, snowstorms that drop over 15 inches of snow there occur once in about every 19 years. The last time this happened was in January of 1999 when 21.6 inches of snow was recorded in Chicago.
Heavy snow and blizzard conditions will not be the only hazards from this storm.
Where the warm air overrides the cold Arctic air, rain will fall into sub-freezing temperatures at the surface and coat trees, power lines and roads in ice from Missouri to southern Illinois and eastward into central Indiana. Ice accumulations up to three-quarters of an inch will be possible, which will likely combine with gusty winds causing tree branches to fall on power lines.
Widespread prolonged period of power outages will be possible. This will be especially dangerous as the temperatures are expected to remain well below freezing across the region for a few days in the wake of the storm.
This will also be some of the coldest air of the season, with temperatures expected to drop well below zero in parts of the Texas panhandle and western Oklahoma by Wednesday. Temperatures across the central and southern high Plains will be almost 50 degrees below normal in some areas.
Low temperatures on Wednesday morning could be in the single digits as far south as northern Texas. Strong winds will combine with the cold temperatures to create extremely dangerous wind chills of 20 to 35 below zero across the southern Plains.
A strong cold front associated with the storm will surge eastward across the lower Mississippi Valley on Tuesday. The cold Arctic air will clash with warm, moist air from the Gulf and severe thunderstorms will be possible across the lower Mississippi River Valley and parts of the Deep South. The storms will be capable of producing damaging winds and isolated tornadoes.READ MORE ABOUT COMING STORM