Winter Storm Wesley Will Bring Snow, Gusty Winds to Upper Midwest Friday

weather.com meteorologists
Published: April 12, 2019

Winter Storm Wesley will continue to impact the upper Midwest with snow and gusty winds into Friday creating dangerous travel and possibly triggering additional power outages.

(MORE: How Winter Storms Are Named)

Happening Now

Snow from Wesley is slowly tapering off in the northern Plains and upper Midwest.

Gusty winds are blowing the snow around from the Plains to the upper Midwest and contributing to poor travel conditions.

(MORE: Latest Impacts From Wesley)


Current Radar and Winds

The top snow total from Wesley to the east of the Rockies so far is 30 inches in Terry Peak, South Dakota.

Forecast

Winter Storm Wesley will be weakening as it moves north-northeastward into southern Canada on Friday.

A mix of freezing rain, sleet and snow will affect portions of the Dakotas and the upper Midwest into Friday afternoon. As it reaches the East, it will mainly produce rain and thunderstorms, even into northern New England.


Friday's Forecast

The combination of strong winds and snow will create hazardous travel conditions.

A few inches of additional snowfall accumulation is possible in parts of the Dakotas and Minnesota Friday.

(MORE: Here’s How Often It Snows in April

This heavy snow has fallen over some areas still suffering flooding from last month's bomb cyclone and melting snow over the past few weeks, including the flood-ravaged Missouri Valley

The impacts from snowmelt following this storm may last for weeks as they did following Winter Storm Ulmer.

Winter Storm Recap

Winter Storm Wesley was named on April 8 with the expectation that both population and areal criteria would be met across the Plains and Midwest. By April 10, blizzard warnings were issued for more than 3.9 million people and 455,000 square kilometers, satisfying the criteria without even including other winter storm and ice storm warnings.

Wesley did not strengthen enough to meet the most commonly used definition of "bomb cyclone," which is a surface-pressure drop of 24 millibars in 24 hours. However, if you adjust for latitude, Wesley has strengthened sufficiently to meet the definition, NOAA Weather Prediction Center senior forecaster David Roth noted in a tweet. According to Weather Underground meteorologist Bob Henson, nontropical low-pressure systems tend to be weaker at lower latitudes. The original 1980 study that coined the term "bomb" therefore suggested adjusting the more common definition by latitude.

Here's a day-by-day recap of Wesley:

April 9

Wesley developed within a deep dip in the jet stream located over the Pacific Northwest and Great Basin. Snow fell from Washington and Montana southward to the central Rockies and into the northern Plains.

Rain stretched eastward through South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois.

April 10

Cold air spread southward into much of the Plains early in the day as the center of Wesley spun south and eastward over the central Rockies. Snow spread across much of Wyoming, Colorado and Utah while becoming more widespread over the central Plains and Midwest.

Thundersnow was reported early Wednesday in parts of South Dakota, including Pierre, the state's capital city.

Winds increased during the day from northern Mexico across the southern Rockies and southern Plains, gusting as high as 80 mph in parts of the Texas Panhandle and New Mexico.

The gusty winds in New Mexico fueled a 1000-acre fire near Portales that destroyed four buildings and injured one person. Dust was lofted by the strong winds Wednesday from northern Mexico and southeastern Arizona to southeastern New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle, as seen here from the ground near Lubbock, Texas.

Power lines were taken down by strong winds near Amarillo, Texas, late Wednesday afternoon. A lumber store in Tucumcari, New Mexico, lost part of its roof in high winds early Wednesday evening.

April 11

Wesley pivoted across the Central Plains and into the Midwest, bringing heavy snow from Colorado to Minnesota.

Blizzard conditions were reported in several Plains states.

Blizzard conditions – frequent gusts at or above 35 mph and visibilities less than 1/4 mile for at least three hours – were recorded in Aberdeen, Huron and Winner, South Dakota. Watertown, South Dakota also recorded blizzard conditions for several hours with intermittent thunder – a thunderblizzard.

Near-blizzard conditions have been recorded in Sterling, Colorado; McCook, Nebraska; Pierre and Mitchell, South Dakota; and Minneapolis and Fergus Falls, Minnesota.

Thundersnow was reported Thursday morning from central Nebraska to northeast Wisconsin. A severe thunderstorm dropped quarter-size hail in Redwood County, Minnesota, an area also covered by a blizzard warning.

Heavy icing in northwest Iowa and southern Minnesota downed power lines and strong wind gusts downed trees in central Iowa.

The city of Worthington, Minnesota lost power Thursday morning due to a half inch of ice on power lines and other exposed surfaces.

Here are the highest snowfall totals as of Friday morning.

  • Colorado: 15 inches near Winter Park; 2.5 inches at Denver Int'l Airport
  • Iowa: 5 inches in Lansing; 0.25 inches of ice in Lake Park
  • Kansas: 1.5 inches in Oakley
  • Michigan: 10 inches in Three Lakes; 4.5 inches near Iron Mountain
  • Minnesota: 17 inches in Ortonville; 9.7 inches at Mpls./St. Paul Int'l Airport; up to an inch of ice in Mountain Lake
  • Montana: 23 inches at Badger Pass
  • Nebraska: 16 inches near Eli; 12 inches near Chadron; 10 inches at Sidney; 0.25 inches of ice near Bassett
  • North Dakota: 17.5 inches in Havana; 9.5 inches near Fargo
  • South Dakota: 30 inches in Terry Peak; 23 inches near Huron; 0.25-0.75 inches of ice at many spots in the southeastern corner of the state
  • Utah: 26 inches at Alta
  • Wisconsin: 12 inches at Townsend; 11.3 inches in Wausau and Eau Claire; 6 inches in Oshkosh; 0.25 inches of ice near Eastman
  • Wyoming: 18 inches near Alta; 8 inches in Cheyenne

Here are the highest wind gusts that have been reported so far:

  • Colorado: 107 mph (due to a gustnado) in Pueblo West; 76 mph in Wolf Creek Pass
  • Iowa: 64 mph in Oelwein
  • Minnesota: 66 mph in St. Paul; 63 mph near Duluth
  • Nebraska: 62 mph in Broken Bow
  • Nevada: 69 mph at Ruby Valley
  • New Mexico: 77 mph near Clovis
  • Texas: 88 mph at South Franklin Peak
  • Utah: 85 mph at Deer Valley


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