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Posted at 6:30 PM ET, 01/31/2011

Snow storm to bury Midwest, New England

By Jason Samenow

Ice storm for Ohio Valley, northern mid-Atlantic

84 hour snow totals from 7 a.m. Tuesday through 7 p.m. Thursday from the NAM model. Note: this is a crude approximation from one model. It is displayed not as a precise forecast but to provide a general idea of where heavy snow is most likely.

National Weather Service advisories and warnings are in effect in more than 20 states as a powerful storm gets organized in the Midwest. A blizzard warning is in effect for Chicago, where 12 to 20 inches of snow is possible. Other cities which may experience blizzard conditions include Tulsa, Wichita, Kansas City, and Detroit. Snow is expected to begin tonight and tomorrow from southwest to northeast and continue into early Wednesday.

The Chicago Tribune's Weather Center cautions: "Snowfall totals in excess of 12 inches coupled with winds of 25 to 40 mph will make long distance travel extremely dangerous if not impossible."

Keep reading for more on the snow, ice and cold to impact the eastern half of the nation. For the latest information specific to Washington, D.C., see our PM Update and analysis of the ice storm potential. We will have another update later this evening.

Wednesday morning into Thursday, the heavy snow moves through central New York, northern Massachusetts,southern Vermont, New Hampshire and southeast Maine. says the storm may be historic, due to the areal coverage of snow forecast - with upwards of 1 foot likely across a "2100-mile long swath from the Southern Plains to coastal New England."

There's some possibility the storm could be one of the top five biggest on record in Chicago and top 10 biggest in Detroit.

Probability of 0.25" or more of ice from Tuesday evening to Wednesday evening from NOAA's Hydrometeorological Prediction Center.

Warm air out ahead of the storm overrunning cold air trapped at the surface is setting the stage for a dangerous ice storm from the Ozarks through the Ohio Valley, northern Maryland, southern Pennsylvania and into northern New Jersey - a 1500 mile swath according to The D.C. metro region is at the southern edge of that region and it will be a close call as to whether it receives significant icing or rain early Wednesday.

Jeff Masters at Weather Underground explains the cause of the storm: "A potent jet stream with strong winds will dive southwards over the central U.S. today, allowing a cold Arctic airmass to spill southwards out of Canada. In front of this cold air, a flow of very warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico will surge northwards, providing copious moisture to fuel snowfall amounts..."

The storm may not be the strongest of this winter, but is slated to impact 100 million people according to AccuWeather.

On the backside of the storm, frigid cold air is pouring into the northern Rockies and northern Plains. The high in Denver Tuesday is only expected to reach between -5 and -1 degrees. Bismarck, North Dakota is predicted to plummet to -20 Tuesday morning.

By Jason Samenow  | January 31, 2011; 6:30 PM ET
Categories:  Latest, U.S. Weather, Winter Storms  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: PM Update: Light freezing rain overnight
Next: Update on weather for next two a.m. commutes



Posted by: yannos | January 31, 2011 6:58 PM | Report abuse

AccuWeather is a hype machine. Remember when Joe Bastardi said the east coast was "starring at double-barrel shotgun" a few years ago? I do. Fools.

Posted by: RepealObamacareNow | January 31, 2011 7:02 PM | Report abuse

It's "WICHITA", not "Wichita Falls (texas)" that's looking at blizzard conditions. Although now the forecast is for maybe 2"-4" of snow in south-central Kansas.

Posted by: podunkboy | January 31, 2011 7:13 PM | Report abuse


Thanks. Fixed.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | January 31, 2011 7:16 PM | Report abuse

As a map maker by trade, let me offer this advice: never publish a map using all the colors of the rainbow. It is very difficult to read. Use varying degrees of lightness (e.g. light red to dark red) instead of multiple hues.

Just some friendly advice from your neighborhood cartographer!

Posted by: JTF- | January 31, 2011 7:42 PM | Report abuse

I just don't understand why weather reporters are unable to identify the U.S regions correctly. They are easily outlined in AP manual for all journalists. It's shocking how many news, sports and weather reporters are geographically illiterate.

Posted by: kryan74 | January 31, 2011 7:47 PM | Report abuse

wow, this is a negative set of comments so far. everyone cranky because we're not getting snow this time around?

(i am).

thanks, CWG, for all of your work!

Posted by: RASinDC | January 31, 2011 8:14 PM | Report abuse

I'm cranky because there's no snow in the offing - and I can't bring myself to hype a couple hours of sleet followed by rain.

Posted by: prickles1009 | January 31, 2011 8:19 PM | Report abuse

We're getting light snow and sleet in Oakton, VA. Just a dusting so far.

Posted by: Kevin-CapitalWeatherGang | January 31, 2011 8:20 PM | Report abuse

I left work in Fairfax/Fair Lakes around 7 pm and saw some teeny, tiny flakes flying around; they increased somewhat in size by the time I got out to Ashburn. Still very light though.

Posted by: natsncats | January 31, 2011 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Just writing to thank the Capital Weather Gang for doing such a great job staying on top of the forecasts, the uncertainties, and the supporting technical data. You have quickly risen to the top in our region with the best forecasts and analysis. Keep up the good work! A weather friend in Falls Church, VA.

Posted by: remy117 | January 31, 2011 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Almost exactly a year since snowmageddon, right - How does the Midwestern blizzard starting up now compare?

Posted by: Budsan | January 31, 2011 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Oh yeah - and when these big northern cities get buried tomorrow, I don't want to hear a peep out of them, what with how professionally they handle snow and all that!!

Posted by: prickles1009 | January 31, 2011 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Am sure that those kids in Chicago won't miss a minute of school because of this storm. Gotta admire that flinty midwest toughness that Obama always brags about!

Posted by: Axel2 | January 31, 2011 9:00 PM | Report abuse


It appears as though the NWS has moved their chances of ice accumulation to the south according to the map you have up above. Is this correct? Are those of us in Anne Arundel County now looking at a greater risk for an ice storm than earlier though? Thanks for all your valuable forecast info!!!

Posted by: elizabethk611 | January 31, 2011 9:01 PM | Report abuse

school cast for tuesday and wednesday please!!!

Posted by: applepie06 | January 31, 2011 9:15 PM | Report abuse

I agreed with "prickles". Definitely, crabby about no snow. What's up with ice and cold rain? Yuk. Holding out for February. Be there or be square.

Posted by: manassasmissy | January 31, 2011 9:19 PM | Report abuse


We'll have a SchoolCast around 10 p.m. tonight.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | January 31, 2011 9:24 PM | Report abuse

Can you just give an opinion on the MOCO schoolcast for tomorrow and Wednesday now please? By the way, I love this site! Great coverage on every storm! :)

Posted by: hoyafan516 | January 31, 2011 9:31 PM | Report abuse


The NWS did extend winter weather advisory south and east for tonight and tomorrow morning because temps are at or below freezing in those spots. But we're still talking very light precip...probably just a light glaze. Not enough to be crippling or cause widespread problems, but watch out for a little slipperiness.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | January 31, 2011 9:35 PM | Report abuse


Am thinking 1.5 apples for MoCo tomorrow and same for Wed - slight chance of a delay both days but no guarantee. Precip tonight may be too light to cause a lot of problems and precip by Wed a.m. may be rain. It's a close call both days.


What geographic region was misidentified?

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | January 31, 2011 9:39 PM | Report abuse

NO, hoyafan516 , you'll just have to sit and be patient, like all the other good schoolchildren and teachers.

Posted by: kolya02 | January 31, 2011 9:39 PM | Report abuse


There is no way kids will be going to school tomorrow. All they need is a coating of ice and BOOM their all closed. I say 2 1/2 or 3 apples is most likely for tomorrow.

Posted by: SNOWLUVER | January 31, 2011 9:49 PM | Report abuse

I guess I'm a big baby, because to me, slipperiness is slipperiness. Just like you can't be a little bit pregnant, roads can't be a little bit slippery. I mean, they can, of course but in my mind a little bit is as bad as a big bit, as far as driving is concerned. All it takes is one small patch, hard to see until the sun is high.

Posted by: Snowlover2 | January 31, 2011 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Not sure I agree with that geographic map linked to above. Has MD, DC, VA as part of South Atlantic.

Posted by: marathoner | January 31, 2011 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Agree with SNOWLUVER.

Schools see ice (or even a forecast of ice) and panic. Some definite school closings tomorrow and especially on Wednesday. Kids, go ahead and make plans for Wednesday fun, there's no way schools in the north and west suburbs will be open.

Posted by: rwalker66 | January 31, 2011 10:00 PM | Report abuse


I thought MD, DC, VA was part of midatlantic as well.

However map linked above aligns with regions defined by Census Bureau as well

Apparently definition of mid-atlantic can vary by source:

Posted by: crazer | January 31, 2011 10:05 PM | Report abuse

Axel2, one of my friends from college teaches in Chicago and they are indeed having early dismissal tomorrow.

Posted by: kmill67 | January 31, 2011 10:20 PM | Report abuse

We actually did a post on this a while back: What is the mid-Atlantic?

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | January 31, 2011 10:26 PM | Report abuse


I agree it's a crummy map. But it's the best I could find to illustrate the wide swath of heavy snow.

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | January 31, 2011 10:35 PM | Report abuse

Weather channel just said heavy freezing rain for fairfax Va tuseday night western parts will get hit badly I think.

Posted by: weatherfreak1994 | January 31, 2011 10:45 PM | Report abuse

in the 40% noaa ice probability this week. have a half inch already. i hate central ohellho.
the geese are headed SSE.

Posted by: shadow_is_lost | February 1, 2011 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Tell me again about global warming as you shovel record snow and ice as the alarmists rake in the cash.

Posted by: UnitedStatesofAmerica | February 1, 2011 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Tell me again about global warming as you shovel record snow and ice as the alarmists rake in the cash.

Posted by: UnitedStatesofAmerica | February 1, 2011 10:47 AM | Report abuse

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