Winter Storm "Rudolph" is about to arrive, and we'll soon know whether this will be a blizzard to remember -- or not.
Blizzard Warnings are in effect for tonight and tomorrow morning, with widespread 6-12 inch totals expected over Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois. A forecast graphic from the National Weather Service in Paducah shows 10.7 inches for Cape Girardeau:
The latest Blizzard Warning includes this ominous language:
* SNOWFALL AMOUNTS: ACROSS SOUTHEAST MISSOURI AND MOST OF SOUTHERN ILLINOIS...6 TO 12 INCHES OF SNOW ARE EXPECTED. LOCALLY HIGHER
AMOUNTS ARE POSSIBLE IN SMALL BANDS OF INTENSE SNOWFALL.
* WINDS: WINDS TONIGHT WILL INCREASE TO AROUND 25 MPH...WITH FREQUENT GUSTS FROM 35 TO 45 MPH. THESE STRONG WINDS WILL PERSIST THROUGH WEDNESDAY MORNING. THE COMBINATION OF THESE GUSTY WINDS AND THE FALLING SNOW AND BLOWING SNOW WILL REDUCE VISIBILITIES TO NEAR ZERO AT TIMES.
* TIMING: SNOW WILL GRADUALLY SPREAD NORTH AND EAST OVER THE REGION THROUGH THE EVENING...LIKELY STARTING AS A MIX OF RAIN AND SNOW. THE HEAVIEST SNOW AND STRONGEST WINDS ARE EXPECTED TO OCCUR BETWEEN 10 PM THIS EVENING AND 6 AM WEDNESDAY. WEATHER CONDITIONS WILL IMPROVE BETWEEN 6 AM AND NOON ON WEDNESDAY. ROADWAYS WILL TAKE LONGER TO IMPROVE.
* IMPACTS: BLIZZARD CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED. EXPECT TRAVEL TO BECOME VERY DIFFICULT OR IMPOSSIBLE. BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW COULD MAKE ROADS IMPASSABLE THROUGH MUCH OF THE DAY WEDNESDAY. WHITEOUT CONDITIONS MAY CREATE A LIFE THREATENING SITUATION FOR THOSE VENTURING OUTDOORS. BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW MAY CONTINUE INTO WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON.
* OTHER IMPACTS: THE HEAVY WET SNOW AND STRONG WINDS MAY BRING DOWN SOME TREES AND POWER LINES.
Last night, the computer models did a major flip-flop, suggesting that we would only see a few inches of snow at the most. However, they have flopped back, and the models now seem confident that we will see a major snowstorm with 6+ inches very likely, 10+ inches quite possible, and 12 inches not out of the question. Here is the current projection from the GFS model:
(Note: This model is also counting the 1 or 2 inches of snow that we might get from our next storm system on Friday. Yes, there's already another system on the horizon.)
As I write this (at 2 PM), precipitation is starting to appear on the radar entering the Missouri Bootheel, and winds in Cape Girardeau are starting to get gusty. It's almost here...