5 Reasons Wesley Is an Example of a Classic 'Kitchen Sink' Spring Storm

Chris Dolce
Published: April 11, 2019

Winter Storm Wesley is a reminder of how powerful storms in early spring can be some of the most dynamic for any time of year when it comes to the multiple threats they pose.

Here are five reasons Wesley is an example of a classic "everything but the kitchen sink" type of storm. Kansas and Nebraska may be the epicenter for all these weather phenomena.

(MORE: Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska Will See Huge Weather Differences as Winter and Spring Clash

1. Winter's Last Stand

Heavy snow is one aspect of some early-spring storms.

Wesley could produce snowfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour at times in the northern Plains and upper Midwest into early Friday. Thundersnow could accompany those heavier snowfall rates as well.

Areas from northern Nebraska to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan could see at least 6 inches of additional snow. The heaviest additional snow is expected to be in eastern South Dakota and western Minnesota, where 1 to 2 feet may pile up through Friday.

Freezing rain may also lead to icy conditions in parts of southern Minnesota, northern Iowa and Wisconsin.

(MORE: Full Wesley Forecast

Additional Snowfall Forecast

2. High Winds

Strong winds often accompany intense storms sweeping out of the West and into the Plains and Midwest in spring.

Wesley will produce wind gusts of 40 to 60 mph (locally higher) as it advances farther eastward across those regions through Thursday. Those winds could trigger some localized power outages.

The strong winds will also play a part in the next two threats we will discuss below.

(MORE: Current Winds

Wind Forecast

3. Blizzard Conditions

Wesley's snowfall and strong winds will create poor visibility across a broad area into early Friday from the northern and central Plains into the upper Midwest. This will make travel difficult or impossible in parts of those regions.

Blizzard conditions are possible in portions of northeastern Colorado, northwestern Kansas, western and central Nebraska, South Dakota and southwestern Minnesota. That will likely cause highway closures, potentially including stretches of interstates 29, 70, 80, and 90.

Winter Weather Alerts

4. Severe Storms

Strong to severe thunderstorms are also a potential concern from Wesley through Thursday night.

Sometimes, early-spring storms like this one produce a widespread outbreak of severe thunderstorms with tornadoes, but Wesley's severe side won't rise to that level.

Severe storms should be sporadic since low-level moisture is lacking in the milder air ahead of Wesley. But there is the potential for a few severe storms to produce large hail, damaging wind gusts and an isolated tornado from eastern Iowa and eastern Missouri into western Kentucky, Indiana and southwestern Michigan on Thursday.

There could also be some localized flooding in saturated parts of the Midwest.

For full details, see our forecast on the severe weather threat here.

Severe Weather Setup

5. Falling Temperatures

Temperatures also take a tumble when potent storms wrap cooler air in behind them during spring. This is amplified by the fact that southerly winds ahead of the storm cause temperatures to rise before thermometers begin their inevitable retreat.

Denver is a classic location for this phenomenon in spring. Ahead of Wesley on Tuesday, temperatures reached the upper 70s. Wednesday was much colder, starting out in the lower 40s and then plummeting into the 20s by late afternoon. As a result, rain and thunderstorms early in the day gave way to snow and near-blizzard conditions by the evening.

Dallas hit 90 degrees Wednesday but will hold in the 70s to close the work week.

St. Louis will be in the 70s through Thursday but will only manage to rise to around 60 degrees Friday and Saturday.

(MORE: Forecast Temperatures

This animation shows the cooler air advancing south and eastward across the Plains and Midwest from Wednesday through Friday.

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