Winter storms are never out of the question even once the calendar reads spring. Today was a great example of just how long winter can hang on for. This late season winter storm boasts differences from typical middle of the winter type storms.
The snow was slow to add up at the onset, but by the afternoon things began to ramp up. Snow began coming down moderate to even heavy during the lunch hour and straight through the afternoon. This storm is expected to bring a heavy, wet snow that we don't often see during the very cold months of winter. When temperatures border on that freezing mark, not only does it make the snow more pasty and sloppy, but it also makes the forecast a little more tricky.
Determining how long it takes the warm air to escape the river valleys can make all the difference when it comes to snowfall totals. The snow does more than just add up though, it also cools things down in the wake of the storm. Todd Shea, the warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service in La Crosse says, "With this snow pack and some areas, the snow depth, it is going to keep temperatures a bit cooler. We already have a cooler than normal air mass across us, so continued cool weather for a while. I know the next week or two it will stay below normal."
These late season winter storms often carry a lot of moisture and have the ability to create dangerous and slick travel conditions. Temperature variation is just one of the challenges with these storms. Todd adds, "Sometimes in the valleys it's a lot less snow than the ridge tops. Sometimes the roads clear out and become just wet quicker than you might in the middle of winter. All those different impacts can change depending on the time of year. Telling exactly how much snow is going to fall in every neighborhood, if you will, is a bit more challenging this time of year."
As Todd said, at the beginning of the event roads remained just plain wet with snow accumulating on grassy surfaces only. This is because the road temperatures were too warm to allow frozen precipitation to accumulate right away. Meanwhile, the soil temperatures were just cool enough, and so that is where the snow began building up first.
Travel is advised against this evening and overnight as roads will remain treacherous. Temperatures are expected to fall below freezing overnight, likely causing a crusty freeze over and more travel impacts. Locations through north-central Wisconsin that tallied half a foot of snow over the weekend will stand the best chance to see the heaviest snow from this latest winter blast. Snow depths across northern Wisconsin, for early April, will near a foot and a half to two feet by the end of this storm.