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Posted at 02:26 PM ET, 12/19/2011

Blizzard rolling into southern Plains

A potent area of low pressure ejecting from the Southwest promises to bring a dangerous combination of wind and snow to parts of the Southern Plains. The National Weather Service forecasts a large area of 4-8” of snow with some areas receiving more than a foot by Tuesday evening. As the storm winds up, winds will increase out of the north reaching 25 mph, with gusts to 40 to 50 mph.


Red areas indicate blizzard warnings; pink winter storm warnings; purple winter weather advisories. (National Weather Service)
Winter storm and blizzard warnings span from northern New Mexico into central Kansas, with winter weather advisories on the periphery of these warnings. AccuWeather warns cities likely to be hardest hit include Guyom, Dodge City and Dalhart in southwest Kansas. The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore tweeted: “Most, if not all of these highways will become Very DANGEROUS this afternoon in southwest #Kansas HWY 50, 160, 56 and 63”.


Satellite image of Southwest and southern Plains storm. (NASA)
Satellite imagery shows an impressive, comma-shaped swirl over New Mexico. To the west and north of the storm center, heavy snow is falling in New Mexico’s mountains where travel problems have been common. And conditions are rapidly deteriorating in southeast Colorado.


Water vapor image shows well-defined swirl in wound-up Southwest storm. (University of Wisconsin)
On the northeast side of the storm, rain is beginning to change to sleet and snow. The National Weather Service in Dodge City, Kansas describes an ominous transition:

By early afternoon a swath of rain and sleet will advance northward from Oklahoma. Accumulating sleet in excess of a tenth of an inch is likely across the southeast 1/3 of the area. Some of this sleet may change over to snow and some snow accumulations will occur farther to the west and north in the afternoon. A break may occur in the precipitation then during the evening, before the stronger lift from the advancing storm approaches. The major bunt of the storm will then begin in the middle evening, and last on through the night. Heavy snowfall rates of one half inch to two inches per hour will create large snowfall totals between 8 and 14 inches by early Tuesday morning. Blizzard conditions will be produced by 25 to 35 mph winds creating intermittent white out conditions and widespread blowing and drifting snow.

East of the storm center, much-needed heavy rain is developing over west central Texas. There is a slight risk of severe thunderstorms in eastern Texas.

As the storm cuts through the central Plains and towards the Eastern Great Lakes, it will weaken and pull down progressively less cold air. That means it transitions to mainly a rainstorm by mid-week for the Ohio Valley and eastern seaboard.

By  |  02:26 PM ET, 12/19/2011

Categories:  Latest, U.S. Weather

 
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