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WINTER STORM WATCH: NWS Predicting Over 6 Inches of The White Stuff…

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Winnebago-Boone-McHenry-Ogle-Lee-De Kalb-
Including the cities of Rockford, Belvidere, Crystal Lake,
Algonquin, McHenry, Woodstock, Rochelle, Oregon, Byron, Dixon,
DeKalb, and Sycamore
155 PM CST Sun Jan 7 2024


* WHAT...Heavy wet snow possible. Total snow accumulations in
  excess of 6 inches Tuesday through Tuesday night. Winds could
  gust in excess of 30 mph Tuesday night.

* WHERE...Winnebago, Boone, McHenry, Ogle, Lee, and De Kalb

* WHEN...From Tuesday morning through late Tuesday night.

* IMPACTS...Travel could be very difficult. The hazardous
  conditions could impact the evening commute.

* ADDITIONAL DETAILS...A quick round of snow of 1 to 3 inches
  will precede the period of heavier snowfall by several hours
  Monday night. Snowfall rates in excess of 1 inch per hour are
  possible at times late Tuesday morning into Tuesday evening.


Monitor the latest forecasts for updates on this situation.
Through Tuesday night...

Key Messages:

- Winter Storm Watch issued for heavy wet snow for Northern 
  Illinois west of the Chicago Metro Tuesday into Tuesday night.

- Snow arrives Monday night. Roughly 6 hour window in which snow 
  rates may briefly exceed 1 inch per hour exists, particularly 
  along and south of I-80 with a likelihood for challenging AM 

- Brief lull in activity Tuesday morning before more widespread 
  impacts from accumulating wet snow Tuesday and gusty NW winds 
  Tuesday night. Greatest threat for significant impacts remains 
  west of I-55.

The well-advertised winter storm across the central CONUS is now 
beginning to eject eastward out of the Four Corners Region. 
Consensus guidance has remained stead-fast with the forecast for 
several days, albeit with some gradual trends northwestward over 
the past couple days. So while we continue to see wobbles in 
guidance, especially with a NW shift at the end of the 12Z CAM 
guidance, the overall range of ensemble scenarios continues to 
narrow with substantial clustering developing within both the GEFS
and EPS. Messaging of the system remains focused on two distinct 
periods of impacts from snow; The first with a quick but potent 
round of multiple inches of wet snow Monday night and the second 
with a heavy band of wet snow in the northwest CWA centered around
Tuesday afternoon.

Window 1 - Monday night: 

Significant low-level WAA/isentropic ascent and moisture 
transport below impressive mid-level diffluence and the upper jet 
streak will support a period of very strong deep layer ascent 
moving northward through the CWA Monday night. Even through a mid-
level dry layer would typically cause some concern with slowing 
the northward push of precip, the forcing and moisture should 
quickly overwhelm the dry layer and produce a quick transition 
from dry conditions to moderate to potentially heavy snow. Most of
the snow will fall in a 4 to 6 hour window with rates of 1/2 to 1
inch per hour using SLR values of 6-8:1. This results in a 
generalized 2-5" across the CWA, favoring the higher end of the 
range south of I-80. A Winter Weather Advisory will likely be 
needed ahead of a general lull in precip Tuesday morning. 
Expectations are for notable travel impacts during the Tuesday 
morning commute.

Window 2 - Late Tuesday morning into Tuesday evening: 

A dry slot should diminish precip potential to a snow/drizzle mix
or complete changeover to light rain across the southeast half of
the CWA Tuesday morning.

Even with the increased clustering of guidance, the marginal 
thermal profiles mean potential solutions still present a 
significant challenge with pin-pointing the rain/snow line and 
sharp gradient of snow amounts by the afternoon. The latest data 
used in this forecast focuses the surface low track roughly along 
the I-55/57 corridors roughly from near Bloomington to extreme 
northwest Indiana. This places the northwest 1/3 of the CWA in the
favored deformation axis of heavy snow with a very sharp 
rain/snow line somewhere in the far northwestern Chicago metro to 
around La Salle County. The warm profile with a deep isothermal 
layer at or just below freezing will yield a very wet snowfall 
with SLR values under 10:1 through the day. Given these low SLRs 
and higher snowfall rates (in excess of 1"/hr at times), 
significant disruptions in travel are expected. A Winter Storm 
Watch has been issued for areas roughly west of a line from 
McHenry into far southern Lee County. Overall, snowfall totals in 
excess of 6" Tuesday into Tuesday evening are becoming more likely
(70%) in the watch area.

As noted in previous forecast discussions, a rather sharp 
gradient in snowfall amounts is anticipated. The means that even a
<50 mile shift in the low track would result in a forecast change
from little snowfall to warning criteria snowfall for some 
locations in the envelope of forecast scenarios. This area of 
concern lies on the eastern edge of the Winter Storm Watch 
eastward into much of the Chicago metro, so a further eastward 
extension of headlines during this period may be warranted with 
future forecast updates. In other words, there will likely be a 
narrow corridor (i.e. on the order of one county) where forecast 
snowfall amounts drastically change as we close in on Tuesday.

Tuesday night: Snowfall will begin to wane Tuesday evening before
diminishing to some lingering flurries Wednesday morning. The 
absence of a strong arctic high behind the system will limit wind 
impacts Tuesday night, but NW gusts in excess of 30 mph may result
in some sporadic tree and powerline damage due to higher snowload
from the wet snow.

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