January 19, 2022

More Rounds Of Snow And Ice Will Pelt Parts Of The South Through This Weekend

It's going to be a rough couple of days for folks from the Deep South to the I-95 corridor who can't stand winter weather. We could see disruptive wintry precipitation across a widespread portion of the southern and eastern states over the next couple of days, culminating with a potentially significant winter storm across the Carolinas heading into the weekend.

The threats cover three main areas:

➤  Snow across the I-95 corridor through the Thursday morning commute
➤  Icing in Texas and parts of the northern Gulf Coast Thursday night into Friday
➤  A significant winter storm in the Carolinas and Virginia Friday into Saturday

Except for the big Carolinas storm, we won't see big amounts, but it'll be just enough to snarl travel in each of the affected areas.

Burst of Snow Along I-95 Through Thursday Morning

A cold front moving toward the East Coast will bring some rain to the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Wednesday night and lasting into Thursday morning. Temperatures will rapidly fall behind the front, allowing much of the precipitation to change over to snow across the I-95 corridor.

We could see this changeover from the D.C. metro area up the interstate into Boston, potentially threatening a very tough morning commute for an area that struggles through a tough morning commute on sunny days. 

The National Weather Service expects only an inch or two of snow across the region, but that's plenty to cause serious headaches across the heavily urbanized I-95 corridor.

Light snowfall totals paired with hot traffic can melt the initial snow into a solid sheet of ice on roads, leaving behind a dangerous mess for the remainder of the commute. We've seen this plenty of times, especially in the D.C. area. 

Deep South Ice Threat Thursday Night Into Friday

Farther south, there's a threat for freezing rain and even a bit of sleet, especially across parts of southern and central Texas. Winter weather alerts are in effect for a big chunk of Texas that includes San Antonio, Austin, Corpus Christi, and Laredo. The alerts could stretch into the Houston metro area soon.

A cold front slouching through the Deep South on Thursday will leave behind plenty of cold air at the surface. While surface temperatures drop to or below freezing, things will be just a tiny bit warmer aloft, allowing precipitation behind the front to fall as a messy mix of freezing rain and sleet.

Source: NWS

The National Weather Service expects a light glaze of ice on Thursday night into Friday morning across a sizeable portion of Texas, with totals pushing one-tenth of an inch in many spots. That's not enough to cause widespread tree damage or power outages, but it'll be just enough to make the roads icy, potentially leading to widespread travel issues.

The potential for freezing rain also extends into the northern Gulf Coast, as well, with Baton Rouge, Biloxi, and maybe even Mobile getting in on the chance for a light glaze into Friday morning.

Significant Carolinas Winter Storm On Friday Into Saturday

The smattering of ice and snow will culminate in a significant winter storm across South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia beginning on Friday and stretching into the first half of Saturday.

As usual for storms in this part of the country, the northern end of the storm will feature a snow threat while the southern half of the storm is dominated by warmer air and the threat for freezing rain and sleet.

The threat for freezing rain looks particularly concerning across parts of eastern S.C. and N.C., where they can go years between remarkable ice storms. The National Weather Service predicts more than one-quarter of an inch of ice accretion from freezing rain in parts of northeastern S.C. and southeastern N.C., which would lead to widespread tree damage and power outages.

Here's a look at the NWS's ice forecast across South Carolina through Saturday morning:

And the agency's ice accretion outlook for North Carolina over the same period:

The abrupt changes across county/state lines are due to different NWS offices arriving at different forecasts for their areas of responsibility.

Farther north, snow is in the forecast and some communities could see a decent helping by the end of the storm on Saturday. A bullseye of 6+ inches of snow is possible across northeastern N.C. and parts of the Virginia tidewater, including Norfolk and Virginia Beach.

A couple of inches of snow is also possible farther west, especially around the Raleigh-Durham area and even stretching back into the Greensboro and Charlotte metros.

There is some uncertainty surrounding the westward/northward extent of the wintry precip, though, because of dry air potentially disrupting the system and the track of the low possibly stretching farther off the coast.

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January 13, 2022

Another Significant East Coast Winter Storm Is On The Way

We're staring down the potential for a significant winter storm across much of the East Coast this weekend. Hefty snowfall totals, significant ice from freezing rain, and gusty winds are all possible as the storm develops and races up the coast.

The Winter Storm Is In Its Infancy

Source: College of DuPage

A system sliding out of the Canadian Prairies will bring heavy snow to much of the Midwest through Friday as it dives toward the southeast. You can see the first pangs of the system's U.S. impacts with the snowfall spreading over the Dakotas tonight. Some folks in Iowa could end the day Friday with double-digit snowfall totals.

This system will swoop into the southeastern United States overnight into Saturday, developing into the winter storm we'll deal with along the East Coast this weekend. The system will rapidly get its act together as it starts moving parallel to the Appalachians, and that's where things get...interesting!

The storm around 8:00 a.m. on Sunday. (NOAA/WPC)

We'll see the greatest impacts in the southeast during the day on Sunday, moving into the Mid-Atlantic Sunday night into early Monday. The bulk of the wintry precipitation will move into the northeast on Monday before lifting away into eastern Canada overnight into Tuesday.

The storm around 8:00 a.m. on Monday. (NOAA/WPC)

Like many eastern winter storms, the precise track of this system will determine if some communities see a lot of rain, a lot of ice, or a lot of snow. This isn't going to be a straight snowstorm for many folks, especially not in the southeastern states. (Could you expect any more?) 

It's (Mostly) Too Early For The Fine Details

It's still too early for the maps I love to make using the National Weather Service's snowfall and ice accretion forecasts. Those forecasts only run out about 72 hours, which would take us to the early stages of the storm on Sunday evening.

The graphic at the top of this post shows the Weather Prediction Center's Winter Storm Severity Index (WSSI), a new-ish metric the agency uses to convey how impactful a winter storm will be for a certain area based on factors like snow totals, ice accumulations, blowing snow, and flash (sudden) freezes.

It looks like higher elevations in the Appalachians will see a solid snowstorm out of this event, with many areas picking up double-digit totals by the end of the storm. The Piedmont, on the other hand, is looking at a sloppy mess.

For many areas from northern Georgia into central Virginia, we're likely looking at snow changing over to sleet and/or freezing rain, then possibly back over to snow as the system departs on Sunday night.

Throw out all those fantastical weather models that showed something like 18" of snow in central North Carolina. Pfft. Chop that down to a tiny fraction once you account for sleet and freezing rain. This is going to be a mess, and any snow on the ground after the sleet and freezing rain is going to freeze hard into a solid mass of ice on Sunday night into Monday.

I can't not post any snowfall or ice graphics, of course, so here's what we have access to right now, courtesy of NWS Greenville, S.C.

This is their snowfall forecast as of Thursday evening:

And their ice accretion forecast from the same update:

The National Weather Service's forecasts for everyone else in the storm's path will go live through the day on Friday as the storm comes within range and forecasters get a better idea of who will see what. 

This is the type of scenario where weather apps on your phone and the pre-installed weather doohickey on your computer fails to give you the information you need. Getting the temperature and probability of precipitation only gives you a small part of the story.

Some forecasts are more complicated than just a few numbers and icons. You need context to get the full story about this weekend's winter storm, and you'll only get that context from articles like this and posts from (legit!) local meteorologists. This is where your local TV weatherperson comes in handy. Events like this are where their experience and local knowledge really shine.

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January 2, 2022

Mid-Atlantic Preparing For Decent Snowstorm, Sudden Freeze A Risk Monday Night

The season's first snowstorm is on its way for the Mid-Atlantic, and it could be the region's first formidable snowfall in a while for many areas. Some lucky folks could wind up with double-digit snowfall totals by the end of Monday. This is one of those rare events where snow seemed unlikely until just recently, so it could come as a surprise to folks who tuned out the weather this weekend.

A strong low-pressure system will rapidly develop and strengthen over the southeast late Sunday into early Monday. There's no shortage of moisture for the low to work with, so it's going to be a prolific rain- and snow-maker for much of the southeast and Mid-Atlantic.

Around these parts, cold air usually has to be here first before we can talk about accumulating snow. This is one of those setups where the Arctic air flooding in from the central U.S. will chase the low into the region. It appears likely that this upcoming storm will break the rule and cold air will arrive fast enough for hefty snowfall totals to fall from the Appalachians to the Atlantic. 

Winter storm warnings stretch from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the New Jersey shore ahead of the snow. Winter weather advisories are more expansive, with everyone from Memphis to Philadelphia getting in on at least a little bit of winter weather.

The map above looks a little janky, I know. This is a compilation of all the forecasts from local NWS offices as of 4:30 p.m. EST. Some of the offices update faster than others, and the snowfall amounts along office boundary borders don't always match up.

Still, you can get the general idea that the heaviest snow will fall over the southern Appalachians and through central Virginia, stretching toward the Delmarva and southern New Jersey. It's worth noting that the axis of heavy snow depends on the track of the storm, and it may wind up inching closer to the D.C. area.

Some areas could wind up notching double-digit snowfall totals before the storm ends on Monday afternoon. If it comes to fruition, this is going to be a decent storm for a region that hasn't seen many of them in recent years.

The sticky, wet snow—combined with gusty winds—could lead to power outages in some areas, so make sure you've got some flashlights, a fully charged cell phone, and some ready-to-eat food on hand in case the lights go out.

The snow will have trouble sticking to roads and sidewalks, especially in areas only expecting minor accumulations. The ground is warm. It's been unusually warm back east for the past couple of weeks. Highs on Saturday climbed into the 60s and 70s across the Mid-Atlantic and Carolinas.

Heavy snow rates will overcome warm ground temperatures and lead to snowy and slushy roads in areas expecting more than a couple of inches of snow.

We could see a sudden freeze behind the system as temperatures plunge Monday night into Tuesday. Low temperatures on Tuesday will push into the teens across Virginia and fall into the 20s from northern Mississippi into the Carolinas. 

Refreezing and black ice will become a huge problem come Tuesday morning, even in areas where snow didn't stick to paved surfaces. Any standing water left on the roads Monday night will freeze as the Arctic air settles over the area, making for dangerous travel conditions heading into Tuesday.

On the warmer side of the storm, several inches of heavy rain in a short period of time could lead to flooding issues. Flood watches are in effect for much of central and eastern North Carolina ahead of the rainfall Sunday night into Monday.

So...where did this storm come from?

Snowstorms don't often take us by surprise anymore. Models and forecasting methods are pretty good today, and it's more likely for a snowstorm to underperform than to kinda sneak up on us. Remember the storm of January 2000? That was a true surprise. What appeared to be nothing turned into a major winter storm that dropped a foot of snow over parts of the I-95 corridor. That was a complete whiff.

This one is sneaking up on us, sure, but we're still a day out from the biggest impacts. Folks have plenty of time to get ready and alter their plans with this storm...as long as they're paying attention and hear the winter storm alerts, that is. We're used to having days and days of advance notice, but a seemingly quick storm like this is a reminder that we should always pay attention to the forecast in case something dramatically changes.

Personally...I'm looking forward to the opportunity for even a little bit of snow. Not only has it been warm for the past couple of weeks, but many areas expecting snow through Monday haven't really seen much snow at all.

I live in Reidsville, N.C., which is just north of Greensboro. Our last significant snowfall was on December 9-10, 2018, when we got 16.5" of snow in the third-largest snowstorm ever recorded here.

Take a look at what we've seen since then:

Reidsville picks up about 7" of snow in a typical season. We saw 2.2" last winter, 1.6" the winter before that, and a blockbuster 16.5" of snow on December 9-10, 2018, which clocked in as our third-biggest snowstorm since records began in 1901. We got one big storm more than two years ago and we've had hardly anything since. Just pitiful. Hopefully we get a little more with this storm.

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December 31, 2021

Widespread Severe Weather Possible Across The Southeast On New Year's Day

A robust low-pressure system developing over the center of the United States on Friday will push east through New Year's Day, bringing a widespread risk for severe thunderstorms to the southeastern states. As always, a midwinter risk for severe weather is especially risky because the sun sets early and folks aren't tuned in  to the threat for bad storms this time of year.

The low, developing over the southern Plains on Friday afternoon, will start to push into the Midwest overnight Friday into Saturday. If you live just about anywhere in the southern United States, you know that it's been unusually warm and humid for a while now. Southerly flow pulled north by the low will accentuate that spring-like warmth, providing the instability and lift needed to trigger thunderstorms.

The latest forecast from the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) paints a widespread risk for severe thunderstorms on Saturday that spans south as far west as Dallas, as far south as New Orleans, and as far north as the Mason-Dixon line in the Appalachians. The greatest threat for dangerous thunderstorms lies within the enhanced risk (orange) area, which covers Little Rock, Memphis, Nashville, Tuscaloosa, Huntsville, and Birmingham.

Forecasters issued the enhanced risk for an elevated threat for tornadoes from any thunderstorms that form in the region.

There is some uncertainty around the tornado risk on Saturday. The SPC's forecast discussion on Friday notes that the environment will be very favorable for supercells to develop, but limited instability may inhibit the development of thunderstorms in the area. Later in the evening, a squall line following the cold front will bring another chance for spin-up tornadoes along the leading edge of the line.

There's also a risk for flash flooding this weekend, mostly across the Ohio River Valley. Steady rain and thunderstorms will produce several inches of rain along and just south of the Ohio River. The rain will fall fast enough that it could lead to flooding.

Severe storms are bad, but flooding kills more people every year than winds and tornadoes. It's impossible to tell how deep the water is until it's too late, and it only takes a few inches of moving water to lift a vehicle and carry it downstream.

The risk for severe weather will follow the cold front as we head into Sunday, bringing a risk for damaging winds and possibly a few tornadoes to the rest of the southeast through the evening hours.

If you live in or anywhere near the risk for storms this weekend, please make sure you have a way to receive severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings the moment they're issued. Many of the storms on Saturday will occur after sunset. Nighttime severe weather is especially dangerous because you can't see what's coming your way (which is why you should always seek shelter if there's a warning!), and because people tune out and go to sleep. Make sure you have a way to receive severe weather warnings even if you're asleep.

Here's a bit I wrote on making sure you're prepared for severe storms from earlier in December after the horrible tornadoes in Kentucky:

Please get a weather radio and check your cell phone's emergency alert settings.

Smartphones are the most common way we receive tornado warnings these days. Modern technology geotargets warnings to your location, sending you a noisy push alert the moment your location is placed within a tornado warning polygon. Wireless emergency alerts have been credited with saving countless lives over the past decade. 

The only problem is that people tend to switch these alerts off after one or two ill-timed notifications, usually for routine tests or child abduction alerts. Please take a minute today to go into your smartphone's settings and ensure these alerts are activated for tornado warnings. It could very well wake you up and save your life when you're least expecting it.

What if your device's battery dies, you don't have good reception, or you simply can't hear your phone while you're asleep or in the other room? That's when a NOAA Weather Radio can come in handy.

NOAA Weather Radios are like smoke detectors for the weather. You can program these devices to sound a loud tone and automatically read a warning out loud when your county goes under a severe weather watch or warning. They can provide you ample warning when severe weather is on the way even if your electricity and internet go out.

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December 30, 2021

Thursday's Intense Wildfire Near Boulder, Colorado, Was Months In The Making

The intense wildfire that exploded near Boulder, Colorado, on Thursday afternoon was months in the making.

Social media pictures relayed a small sample of the nightmarish conditions residents, workers, and shoppers faced when fast-moving flames rapidly engulfed communities southeast of Boulder.

Flames forced residents to flee their homes in the towns of Superior and Louisville, both situated about six miles southeast of Boulder. As of 9:15 p.m. EST, news reports indicated that hundreds of homes and businesses were destroyed by the fire, including a shopping center and a hotel.

There's no word if anyone was injured or killed in the disaster, though sadly it wouldn't be a surprise if there were folks who couldn't evacuate before the fast-moving flames arrived.

This kind of firestorm is one of the most horrifying natural disasters possible, and the region has been inching toward this kind of eruption for a long time.

This week's update of the U.S. Drought Monitor found much of northeastern Colorado mired in an extreme drought. "Extreme" feels like an understatement. Denver International Airport has only seen 1.08" of rain since July 1st, making this the driest last-half of the year ever recorded.

Such a deep and prolonged drought desiccated vegetation, leaving woodlands and grasslands susceptible to the tiniest spark. Add in the fact that this has been one of the warmest Decembers on record in the region—Boulder's average high so far this month is 54.5°F, the fourth-warmest on record since the late 1800s—and you have the background ingredients for fires to spark and spread.

Then there was the wind. It was incredibly windy along the Front Range today. Downsloping winds screamed across the area on Thursday afternoon, with 80-100+ mph gusts recorded in and around Boulder for the bulk of the day. The combination of exceptional dryness, unusual warmth, and powerful winds allowed this fire to ignite without issue and spread with frightening speed.

The fire is so intense that the smoke plume is more than 100 miles long on radar.

Winds started to die down on Thursday evening, which should help crews get a handle on the flames and stop the inferno's progression into neighborhoods and business districts.

The kicker is that a winter storm warning is in effect for the affected areas. 

Beginning on Friday, the National Weather Service expects 6-8 inches of snow to fall across the Boulder area through Saturday afternoon, which should help to put out any hotspots that remain.

[Satellite: NOAA | Chart: xmACIS2]

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December 22, 2021

A Slug Of Moisture Heads For California And A Deep Chill Heads For Washington

It sure seems like the West Coast has gotten a decade's share of interesting weather over the past year. The active pattern will continue over the next couple of days as California and Oregon are socked with heavy rain and high-elevation snows. Meanwhile, a lobe of the polar vortex dipping into Western Canada will send bitterly cold air into the Pacific Northwest. Some spots could even see snow around Christmas.

Heavy Rain and Snow

Several surges of moisture will wash over the West Coast through the end of the week, bringing heavy rain to lower elevations and blockbuster snowfall to the mountain ranges. The National Weather Service says that 6-8 feet of snow is possible across California's mountains, with totals up to 10 feet possible in the highest peaks.

The precipitation forecast above (from the Weather Prediction Center) shows liquid precipitation totals from both rainfall and snowfall. That huge splotch of 10"+ of rain over the Sierra Nevada is entirely snow, showing how well the mountains will wring out every juicy drop of moisture heading their way.

Hefty rainfall totals are likely at lower elevations. All the major cities along the coast can expect several inches of rain over the next couple of days. This includes Los Angeles and San Diego, where rain is uncommon enough these days that a simple rain shower gets the breaking news treatment.

Watch out for the potential for flooding issues in vulnerable areas during heavy rainfall, especially areas that recently experienced wildfires. Burn scars make the ground impermeable, forcing rainwater to simply run off instead of absorbing into the ground.

A Cold Pattern Into 2022

Temperatures are set to dive across much of the Pacific Northwest heading into Christmas and likely lasting straight into the first week of January. Here's what the Climate Prediction Center's temperature outlook looks like for the next two weeks:

It's pretty rare to see that kind of confidence in below-normal temperatures in this part of the country!

It's about to get super cold on the Canadian Prairies. Temperatures will dive far below zero for the foreseeable future, with wind chill readings pushing -40°F at times by early next week. That surge of Arctic air isn't going to stop at the Rockies.

Frigid temperatures will spill down to sea level across the Pacific Northwest, where even Vancouver, B.C., is looking at the potential for significant snowfall heading into this weekend. Snow is possible even at lower elevations throughout western Washington, which is great news for Seattle-area snow lovers.

The National Weather Service in Seattle issued this graphic on Wednesday, highlighting their confidence in accumulating snow across lower elevations (including Seattle!) this weekend:

The real story here is the staying power of the cold air. It's going to get cold and stay cold for a long time. It's likely that Seattle will fall below freezing this weekend and not climb back above freezing for a week or longer. That's going to be rough on folks who don't have proper heating, proper warm clothes, or even adequate housing. Typical warming methods like public libraries, stores, and designated heating centers are going to be tricky with the latest coronavirus surge sweeping the country.

Remain mindful of the threat that extended exposure to cold weather can pose, and please check in on loved ones and neighbors you know or even suspect might not have adequate means of staying warm during this long winter chill.

[Model Graphic: Tropical Tidbits]

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December 15, 2021

Rare Mid-December Severe Weather Outbreak Targets Midwest On Wednesday Evening

Today is likely going to go down as one of those memorable days in weather history across the central United States as an intense low-pressure system sweeps from Colorado to northern Ontario. Downsloping winds behind the system have already gusted to 100+ mph in Colorado's Front Range, and damaging winds will spread into the Upper Midwest through the evening hours.

Just as serious, however, is the threat for severe weather that will target the Midwest late Wednesday afternoon into Wednesday night.

The Storm Prediction Center issued a moderate risk for severe weather, a four out of five on the scale measuring the threat for severe storms, which is unprecedented in this part of the country for this late in the year.

This event is unsettling not only for the severe weather potential itself, but because it's unfolding across an area not accustomed to this magnitude of threat just a week-and-a-half before Christmas.

A warm and unstable airmass is in place across the Midwest. Des Moines, Iowa, broke its all-time December temperature record this morning with a reading of 71°F, and the temperature will likely climb higher before the storms arrive.

The storms are going to fire up and move very quickly. You can already see the beginnings of the squall line in central Kansas on the satellite image above, snagged around 1:15 p.m. CST.

Thunderstorms will develop along and ahead of the cold front sweeping along the southern half of the low. This squall line will have no trouble mixing intense winds down to the surface, potentially leading to widespread reports of 70+ mph wind gusts as it passes through.

There's enough wind shear present that discrete thunderstorms, as well as the squall line itself, will likely produce at least a couple of tornadoes, especially across parts of Iowa and Minnesota. A few tornadoes could be strong or long-lived, which is a terrifying prospect because much of the activity will unfold after sunset.

Make sure you have a way to receive warnings the moment they're issued. Check your smartphone and ensure that wireless emergency alerts are activated for tornado warnings. Those alerts are proven life-savers and they're programmed to alert you the moment your location goes under a tornado warning.

Try to stay awake tonight if you're under the threat for severe weather. Don't go to bed until you're in the all-clear. If you have no choice but to go to bed before the storm threat is over (or if you just happen to doze off or not pay attention), make sure you've got a way to receive warnings when they're issued. Keep your phone by your bed. Check your weather radio and ensure that it's working. Keep a local news channel on high volume. Task a friend or relative with calling you if a warning is issued. Just make sure you've got a way to get to safety in a hurry if necessary.

Also, if you have tall trees or large tree limbs hanging near or over your home, consider avoiding those rooms during the gusty winds or severe thunderstorms. Trees falling into homes are the leading cause of wind-related injuries in a setup like this. 

Stay safe.

[Satellite: NOAA]

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December 14, 2021

A Quick-Hitting Storm Will Pack A Wallop With Destructive Winds, Severe Storms

A quick-hitting Colorado low will sweep over the central United States through Thursday and make a mess of things in its wake. The system will have it all: rain, snow, high winds, an extreme fire danger, and a risk for severe thunderstorms over parts of Iowa and Minnesota. 

Blink and you'll miss it. This storm is going to haul tail toward Canada, forming over Colorado on Wednesday morning and zoom into northern Ontario by the same time on Thursday morning. It's going to be quite the active 24 hours for a vast swath of the central United States, beginning with the threat for high winds and an extreme fire danger on the Plains.

Powerful Winds Likely on Wednesday

A dangerous situation is setting up along the path of the low from the Front Range straight through to the Great Lakes. Intense winds will easily mix down to the surface, bringing the threat for 60+ mph gusts that will topple trees, cause power outages, and toss around loose objects like Christmas decorations, patio furniture, trash cans, and grills.

The strongest winds will rake over the Front Range, where wind gusts could reach 100 mph in spots during the day on Wednesday. This is the graphic that NWS Denver made for the event, highlighting how dangerous conditions will be on Wednesday:

If the forecasts hold up, this will be a significant and memorable wind event for many folks in Colorado.

Strong winds will follow the path of the low as it races toward Canada. High wind watches and warnings are in place across the central Plains, a huge swath of the Midwest, and much of the Great Lakes in anticipation of damaging winds.

The criteria for wind advisories and high wind warnings varies from place to place, but it's safe to say that all of these regions will experience dangerous winds for a time on Wednesday and Thursday.

If you live in an area expecting powerful winds, remain mindful of tall trees or large tree limbs that loom over your home. Most wind-related injuries occur when trees or tree limbs fall into houses. If you have a big limb hanging over your bedroom, for example, consider avoiding that room as much as possible during the strong winds.

Prepare tonight for power outages tomorrow. Make sure your devices are charged and you have juiced-up flashlights within easy reach. (It's tough to feel around for flashlights batteries in the dark. Don't ask me how I know.)

High Fire Danger Accompanies The Winds

Powerful winds, warm temperatures, dry air, and ongoing drought conditions will all work together to create a high fire danger from the northern Texas Panhandle through central Kansas on Wednesday.

A high fire danger extends out to include communities from northeastern New Mexico to southern Nebraska. There aren't too many people who live in the affected areas, and I doubt many of you live there (thanks for reading if you do!), but it's the kind of day where any fire could quickly spiral out of control. One fire threatening one home is too many.

Severe Storms

The surge of moisture and warmer, unstable air on the south side of the low will set the stage for thunderstorms to develop over Iowa and Minnesota on Wednesday.

The Storm Prediction Center issued a slight risk for severe weather across much of Iowa and southern Minnesota. The strongest storms that form in and around this area could produce tornadoes, damaging winds, and large hail. It won't take much of a downdraft to pull those intense winds down to the surface.

As always, make sure that you have a way to receive severe weather warnings the moment they're issued. Take a moment to look at your phone and ensure that emergency alerts for tornado warnings are active, and that you have a way to hear warnings if you're asleep when rough weather moves through.

It's also worth noting that much of the area under that severe weather risk on Wednesday currently has several inches of snow on the ground. It's not out of the realm of possibility that we could get a picture or two of a tornado traversing a snow-covered landscape. (It's not unprecedented!)

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