Cross-Country Storm Is Bringing Blizzard Conditions to Plains & Parts of Northeast May See First Significant Snow

weather.com meteorologists
Published: November 30, 2019

Snow and strong winds are creating blizzard conditions, as a powerful storm moves from the Plains into the eastern United States this weekend. This could be the first major snow of the season for areas from New York City to Boston late Sunday into Monday.

The Weather Channel has named this system Winter Storm Ezekiel.

Happening Now

Snow and gusty winds will create dangerous travel conditions in the Upper Midwest overnight. Ground blizzard conditions could continue in the northern Plains overnight, as well.


Current Radar and Wind

Blowing snow and strong winds have closed numerous roads in the Plains, including parts of Interstate 80 in Wyoming and Nebraska. A "no travel advisory" has been issued by the city of Duluth, Minnesota and in Rapid City, South Dakota. Travel is also discouraged from parts of Colorado to western South Dakota. Thundersnow was reported in parts of western South Dakota midday Saturday.

Blizzard conditions have been reported is several spots in Wyoming, including near Arlington, Vedauwoo, Whitaker and Warren Air Force Base, Saturday morning where frequent wind gusts of 45 to 55 mph were occurring. Harrisburg, Nebraska and Rapid City and Ellsworth, South Dakota have also reported blizzard conditions on Saturday with visibility below a quarter mile and frequent wind gusts of at least 35 mph over three hours.

Even as the snow stops falling from the sky, ground blizzard conditions are being reported in Wyoming as winds whip up the freshly fallen snow. Laramie also reported near blizzard conditions Saturday afternoon.

Early Saturday, Rochester, Minnesota, reported 0.13 inches of freezing rain. Up to a half inch of ice was estimated to have accumulated near Bredette, Montana, Saturday morning which caused tree limbs to sag significantly. Killdeer, North Dakota reported a quarter inch of ice had accumulated on power lines and tree branches as of midday Saturday.

(LATEST: Winter Storm Impacts Parts of the Plains, West

Heavy snow and strong winds disrupted Thanksgiving travel in parts of the West. As of early Saturday, 48 inches of snow was measured at Big Bear Lake, California, as well as at Snowbasin, Utah.

Wind gusts over 80 mph were measured late Friday and early Saturday in parts of Colorado, including a gust to 91 mph near Nederland (located west of Boulder). A wind gust of 112 mph was measured at Brighton, Utha, where the elevation is 10,565 feet.

Additional storm reports can be found farther down in this article.

Current Winter Alerts

Blizzard warnings have been issued for portions of eastern Wyoming, western South Dakota and northern Nebraska, as well as in northeastern Minnesota, including Duluth. A blizzard occurs when sustained winds of frequent gusts to at least 35 mph and considerable falling and/or blowing snow that frequently reduces visibility to less than a quarter-mile.

Winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories have been issued by the National Weather Service across a broad area of the Plains and upper Midwest.

The worst conditions are likely in areas where winter storm warnings and blizzard warnings are in effect. Some locations in these warnings may be impossible to travel through.


Winter Weather Alerts

Winter storm warnings, watches and winter weather advisories have been issued by the National Weather Service for parts of the Northeast. This includes Boston, Hartford, Albany and Syracuse. These area locations where moderate to heavy snowfall may create hazardous conditions and may travel very difficult later this weekend.

An ice storm warning has also been issued for parts of Pennsylvania and far western Maryland beginning Saturday night. Significant icing is expected from freezing rain here with ice accumulations of more than a quarter inch possible. Ice accumulation of a quarter inch or greater can damage trees and power lines and roads become slippery.

Closer to the coast, including much of the Interstate 95 corridor, may see a mix of precipitation types and less snow. There is greater uncertainty in the forecast here.


Winter Weather Alerts

High wind warnings and wind advisories have also been posted by the National Weather Service for parts of the West and Plains. Wind gusts over 60 mph are likely in areas under a high wind warning. These winds will make travel tricky, especially for high-profile vehicles. Some wind gusts could also cause some power outages.


Wind Alerts

Below is the forecast for the next few days. You can also find a recap of how this storm became a bomb cyclone when it first struck northwestern California and southwestern Oregon Tuesday.

Forecast Timing

Sunday

By Sunday, Ezekiel could bring snow from the upper Midwest to New England, with rain from the mid-Atlantic to the Southeast.

Heavy snow may fall in the Upper Midwest and parts of the interior Northeast. Gusty winds are likely as well.

A second low will develop off the Northeast coast and will likely track relatively close to the coast which will result in a mix of snow, sleet, freezing rain and rain in the Northeast.

At this time it looks like, precipitation will likely begin as snow Sunday from eastern Pennsylvania into southern New England before warmer air changes the precipitation to sleet, freezing rain and rain, especially closer to the coast.

New York City and Boston may see several changes between rain and snow back and forth during the day. Winds may become gusty across southern New England late in the day.

These details will likely change, so be sure to check back for updates.


Sunday's Forecast

Monday

An area of low pressure will be strengthening and slowly tracking just off the Northeast coast early next week. The National Weather Service in Boston noted Friday morning that "confidence continues to increase that we will see a significant and long duration winter storm affect southern New England from Sunday through early Tuesday."

The details remain uncertain but the chance for snow and strong winds is increasing in the Northeast and this system will remain in the region for nearly 48 hours.

Areas that changed to rain, sleet and freezing rain on Sunday will likely transition back to snow before ending later Monday.

Areas farther west and north of the I-95 corridor will likely see all snow from this system. Locations near the coast may see less snow.


Monday's Forecast

Snow may linger into early Tuesday in parts of New England.

Snowfall Forecast

Portions of the Northern Plains could pick up several more inches of additional snow. The heavy snow combined with strong winds may create snow drifts feet high.

Moderate to heavy snow is expected from northern and central Minnesota into northern Wisconsin and northern Michigan through Sunday.


Rain and Snow Forecast

Areas from northeastern Pennsylvania into parts of New England could pick up significant snowfall accumulations into Tuesday.

The exact snowfall totals remain uncertain, especially closer to the Northeast coast where rain and sleet could mix in, so be sure to check back for updates.


Snowfall Forecast

Storm Impacts

Portions of Interstate 5 were closed in southern California due to heavy snow for much of Thanksgiving. Travel through the Southern California mountains will remain dangerous into Friday.

An unusual amount of snow even in the lower elevations of Southern California, including Palmdale where more than 3 inches has fallen so far.

Some minor ice accumulations have made roads and bridges slick in portions of Kansas and Missouri Thanksgiving morning.

Strong winds and snow have created white out conditions at times Friday in northern Arizona, as well as Colorado.

Highways were closed in northern Arizona Thursday night into Friday morning, including Interstates 17 and 40, due to snow, the Associated Press reported. The Flagstaff area reported 8 to 12 inches of snow as of early Friday.

Flash flooding was reported in portions of Arizona early Friday, with roads closed near Gila Bend and New River. A driver became stuck in a flooded area of state route 74 near New River and was rescued.

Thunderstorms damaged trees near Higley, Arizona and numerous trees were downed by thunderstorm winds near North Scottsdale, Arizona, early Friday. Roof damage was reported near Avra Valley, Arizona, and a carport was blown collapsed on a car near Glendale, Arizona.

Snowfall Totals

Here are some top snowfall totals by state, as of midday Saturday.

Arizona: 30 inches at Arizona Snowbowl; 19 inches near downtown Flagstaff

California: 48 inches at Big Bear Resort (elevation 8,500 feet)

Colorado: 15 inches at Wolf Creek Pass

Idaho: 20 inches (estimated) at Sun Valley Resort

Minnesota: 3 inches at Mankato; 0.13 inches of ice at Rochester

Montana: 15 inches near Marysville

Nebraska: 12 inches at Chadron

Nevada: 12 inches near Incline Village at Diamond Peak Ski Resort

New Mexico: 16.6 inches near Black Lake

North Dakota: 8 inches at Ashley

Oregon: 15 inches (estimated) near Rock Creek

South Dakota: 10 inches at downtown Rapid City

Utah: 48 inches at Snowbasin Resort (elevation 7,402 feet)

Wyoming: 12 inches at Lusk


Estimated Snowfall

Bomb Cyclone Recap

As this intense storm approached the coasts of southwestern Oregon and northwestern California Tuesday evening, it underwent bombogenesis. The storm's minimum central pressure dropped 43 millibars in 24 hours, far exceeding the criteria of 24 millibars within 24 hours to be deemed a bomb cyclone. What this means is that the storm is unusually intense and capable of producing high winds.

Tuesday night, the pressure dipped to at least 973.4 millibars in Crescent City, California as Ezekiel made landfall. This value was an unofficial all-time record for the lowest sea-level pressure observed anywhere in the state of California, according to the National Weather Service office in Eureka.

Cape Blanco, Oregon – the notoriously windy spot on the Pacific Northwest coast – recorded a sustained wind of 85 mph with a gust to 106 mph early Tuesday afternoon.

The National Weather Service in Eureka, California, said thousands of people were without power in northwestern California Tuesday, as the strong winds had taken down trees and power lines across the region.

The low slowly weakened following landfall over portions of Oregon, Nevada and northern California on Wednesday, while rain and snow spread across much of the West. Strong winds and heavy snow pounded California as the low pressure system meandered around the West. Portions of Interstate 5 closed in northern California due to heavy snow.

Ezekiel began to migrate southward as the deep dip in the jet stream reloaded. Deep moisture and colder air continued to flow in across California and much of the West. The Grapevine and a portion of Interstate 5 closed early on Thanksgiving as snowfall rates increased and roads deteriorated.

Snow and ice across portions of the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles, Kansas and eastern Nebraska as Ezekiel escorted a burst of moisture across the Plains. Some surfaces in Topeka became icy.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.


The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.