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March 19, 2010 / Dave Gorham

Winter Storm could cause Travel Disruptions

Last week, ImpactWeathers StormWatch Manager Fred Schmude was the first to predict the winter storm forecasted to impact portions of the Rockies, Plains, and Upper Midwest beginning today. A strong low pressure system will develop across the Southern Plains and with a cold Canadian airmass diving southward, this will set the stage for an early spring snow storm across the Plains. Right now, it appears that heavy, wet snow will be likely across Wyoming and Colorado, whereas Denver is expected to pick up 7-9 inches with isolated totals up to 10 inches. Kansas City is also on target to receive heavy amounts of snow with 7-9 inches also possible.

Image: ImpactWeather

Not only will the heavy, wet snow be a concern for travelers through the heart of the country, but also the strong winds expected with this system. Sustained winds of 20-30 mph out of the north will be likely behind this system. This of course could cause traveling problems, especially with 18 wheelers traveling the interstates across the Plains routes which are usually east to west bound. With the strong northerly winds hitting the 18 wheelers at a perpendicular angle, this could cause drivers to lose control. Especially when you combine the winds with the heavy, wet snow likely for these areas, hazardous driving conditions will be possible.


Image: The Sun Blog

Not only will travelers along interstates be impacted by this early spring snow storm, but airports will also likely see delays from Denver to Kansas City, possibly up to Chicago. If you’re traveling the next few days, be sure and check your flight status before leaving. To get an update on highway closures and state highway advisories, check out the U.S. Department of Transportation website and choose your state. Of course, FEMA recommends driving only if absolutely necessary during such conditions. They also recommend traveling during the day, not to travel alone, and to keep others informed of your schedule. Also, avoid back roads and stay on the main roads.

Image: ImpactWeather

Even though the snow moving across the Plains will end this weekend, the first day of spring is Saturday and that means severe weather season is right upon us. Even though we won’t be dealing with the threat of snow for much longer, fronts will be regularly making their way through the Plains over the next several months. Therefore, strong winds will continue to be a concern with each system and instead of snow, often time’s heavy rain and the threat of severe weather will be possible. 


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