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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014

Thu
Hi: 55
Lo: 47
Fri
Hi: 62
Lo: 51
Sat
Hi: 63
Lo: 42
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Milwaukee is expected to get anywhere from 2 to 8 inches of snow today.
Milwaukee is expected to get anywhere from 2 to 8 inches of snow today.

Thursday snow update: Few inches in Milwaukee, paralyzing blizzard west

Winter weather has been generally a no-show across Wisconsin to this point this season. Today it gets here, and it arrives with all the subtlety of Cousin Eddie showing up at the Griswold's in "Christmas Vacation."

Yet, to be clear, the storm will not have a major impact on the city of Milwaukee and adjacent communities. Yes, there will be snow. Plus, it will be brutally windy by Thursday afternoon and evening. But the snow accumulation and its on impact on travel in the city of Milwaukee will be nothing compared to what will happen in southwest, central and northeast Wisconsin.

Milwaukee will likely have rain into the afternoon before it finally turns to snow. The heaviest snow is expected in Milwaukee between 3 and 8 p.m. It will total 2 to 4 inches by the time it ends. A few locations in far western and northwestern Milwaukee County may exceed 4 inches by a bit (Brown Deer, Wauwatosa, West Alllis).

I also expect a day of mainly rain in Racine and Kenosha counties with an eventual changeover to snow and 2 to 4 inches of accumulation.

Waukesha and Ozaukee counties will be in for a rougher go of it. Those counties will have a mix of rain and snow Thursday morning before the precipitation becomes all snow in the afternoon. Total snow accumulations in those counties will range from 4 to 8 inches. Totals at the low end of that range will be most common in the eastern and southeastern portions of the counties (Mequon, Thiensville, New Berlin, Muskego), and totals at the high end of that range most common in the west and northwest
(Oconomowoc, Hartland, Delafield).

Further west, a paralyzing blizzard will rage most of the day. Snow totals will exceed a foot in a wide swath from the southwest corner of Wisconsin all the way to Green Bay.

This includes cities such as Madison, Beaver Dam, Fond du Lac, and Wisconsin Dells.

The heavy snow will be accompanied by winds of 35-45 miles per hour, with the possibility of some gusts over 50 miles per hour. It is in this part o…

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Central and Western Wisconsin will take the biggest hit during tonight's snowstorm.
Central and Western Wisconsin will take the biggest hit during tonight's snowstorm.

Snowstorm: A few inches in Milwaukee, paralyzing blizzard west

The snowstorm that has been talked about for several days will hit Wisconsin Wednesday night and continue through Thursday. A full-fledged blizzard is expected in the central part of the state, where snow totals are expected to exceed a foot and wind gusts will be over 40 miles per hour.

Meanwhile, snow will indeed fall in Milwaukee, too, although accumulations will be just in the 2-6-inch range.

The precipitation will begin in Milwaukee Wednesday night and likely will be all rain. It may very well continue to be all rain through most or all of the night. The changeover from rain to snow is expected to take place some time Thursday morning. Snow will then continue in the city through the rest of the day before ending Thursday evening.

Winds of 25 to 40 miles per hour will blow the snow around quite a bit, although this will be mitigated a bit by the fact that the snow in Milwaukee will be rather wet and heavy. Temperatures in Milwaukee through much of Thursday will be above freezing which keep the snow from accumulating too much on city roads and freeways.

Further inland, there is potential for a crippling blizzard. Southwest and Central Wisconsin, including Fond du Lac, Waupun, Beaver Dam, Madison and Wisconsin Dells, will have all snow right from the start. The snow will fall steadily and heavily through Wednesday night and much of Thursday. Winds will whip to over 40 miles per hour, at times making travel impossible and dangerous.

In between Milwaukee (2-6 inches) and central Wisconsin (12-16 inches) plenty of snow will fall, as well:

  • Waukesha County accumulation will range from around 4 inches in the southeast to near 12 inches in the northwest.
  • Ozaukee County accumulation will range from around 4 inches in the southeast to near 12 inches in the northwest.
  • Walworth County accumulation will be 4 to 8 inches.
  • Washington County accumulation will range from around 6 inches in the southeast to around 12 inches in the northwest.

This snowstorm will be…

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Indications are that Milwaukee will receive 2-4 inches of snow.
Indications are that Milwaukee will receive 2-4 inches of snow.

Snowstorm update: Milwaukee, meh; worst west

The first big snow-producing storm system of the season will plow across Wisconsin Wednesday and Thursday, possibly bringing blizzard conditions to some locations.

Evidence as of early Tuesday morning suggests that the worst conditions will be well north and west of Milwaukee. Milwaukee will likely have rain initially, starting early Wednesday night. Some time late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning, the rain will become mixed with, then change to snow. The snow will then continue into Thursday afternoon.

Indications are that Milwaukee will receive 2-4 inches of snow. Totals near Lake Michigan will be on the low end of that range, with inland areas reaching the high end.

Meanwhile, accumulations will be much higher further inland. This is because what falls further west will start earlier, and will be all snow. The highest amounts, 8 to 12 inches, are expected in communities such as Watertown, Beaver Dam, Waupun and Fond du Lac. Amounts of 4 to 8 inches will be found across Waukesha and Ozaukee counties. (See my high-tech forecast map for my snow forecast across all of southeastern Wisconsin.)

The impact of this storm on Milwaukee will not be terribly high. Aside from being the first accumulating snow of the year, the storm isn't expected to be too noteworthy for the city. On the other hand, areas well inland may very well be dealing with a full-fledged blizzard during parts, or all, of Thursday.

Winds are expected to gust over 35 miles per hour while the snow falls on Thursday, and they will likely continue well after the snow has stopped on Thursday night. I've seen the word "paralyzing" used to describe the potential conditions where the heaviest snow will fall. While I might take issue with that word a little, I won't go out of my way to argue against it too much. Areas which receive the combination of 8 to 12 inches of snow and wind gusts over 35mph are in for a rough go of it on Thursday ... and perhaps Friday as well.

In addition to the communiti…

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Craig's snow forecast.
Craig's snow forecast.

Will it snow Thursday?

I got up early this morning to check out the latest on the potential for snow later this week. Here's what I found ...

All systems go for big storm system to impact Wisconsin on Wednesday night and Thursday. There are still plenty of fluctuations in the computer models, leading to typical uncertainty in the system's ultimate track.

Nevertheless, the most reliable models do seem to be converging on a "mostly likely" outcome. This is not the only potential outcome, just the mostly likely based on current evidence.

Here's what I think I know:

  • Everyone will likely get some snow.
  • The amount of snow that accumulates will range greatly across southeastern Wisconsin, perhaps from as little as 2 inches to as much as 12-plus inches.
  • Areas well north and well west will likely have the highest accumulations.
  • Areas around Milwaukee and to the south will likely have the lowest accumulations.
  • The precipitation will begin very late in the day on Wednesday or Wednesday evening, continue through the night and into mid-day Thursday morning.
  • Areas around Milwaukee and to the south will likely have rain initially, perhaps all Wednesday night, before the rain eventually changes to snow.
  • Further inland, it's likely that less rain (or no rain at all) will fall before it becomes all snow. (Leading to the higher snow accumulations there.)

This illustration what I would consider the most likely snow accumulation given the evidence at this time. I present this with the caveat that the computer models still have plenty of time to throw new/different output at us between now and Wed night. If they do, the snow totals below will need to be adjusted.

The map is based on what's seems most likely to occur, given the information available very early Monday morning.