500 millibar analysis reveals that our storm system is currently in the Rockies, and is at the pre-mature stage of a positive tilt. The positive tilt is shown by how the vorticity values (in red outlines) seem to be trying to push to the southwest. In the next 24-48 hours, the system will attain a negative tilt, where the vorticity values will slide east and appear to be pushing to the southeast. In similar fashion to the most recent snow event, this storm will dump intense snowfall on the Plains and occlude (weaken) as it progresses east.
The time for analyzing forecast models has come and gone, as we begin to see swaths of the country stamped with various winter weather headlines. In purple, we see winter weather advisories, which are issued for generally lighter snow events. Pinks show winter storm warnings, and these are the areas that are most likely to see these heavy snowfall amounts in the next couple of days. In an orange-red color we see blizzard warnings, which extend from North Texas and western Oklahoma into southwest Kansas and portions of Colorado to the east of the Front Range. This is where the high-impact blizzard portion of the storm title comes from. These areas will see the worst of this storm in terms of travel impacts and ability to travel.
This is the short range NAM model, an American-based weather model that does fare well in these types of late-winter storm situations. Its forecast for this event holds as much as 31 inches of snow in western Oklahoma in that small red dot. That's nearly three feet of solid snow! The apricot color signifies 24-30 inches, and the light blues reflect 20-24 inches of snow. This is essentially a repeat of what we saw with the most recent snow event: It dumps all of its snow early, occludes and leaves the leftovers for the Midwest and Great Lakes. However, this time, the 'leftovers' may not be so meager. Multiple forecasting sources have informed me that cities like Chicago, IL , Gary, IN and even the region of southern Michigan could be in the running for more accumulating snow than what fell earlier last week.
I did put in city forecasts for this event in addition to the coloring scale. Light Blue is a general 1-3 inches, dark blue is 4-8 inches, and light pink is upwards of 8 inches. I used a blend of the NAM model and forecasts from the National Weather Service, as well as my own opinion on the matter. As far as commutes go, I am anticipating an incredibly messy one for Wichita and Amarillo, where blizzard conditions are expected, especially in the latter city. Chicago and Des Moines will really be 'game-time decisions', as upper air thermal profiles are still a little murky and will ultimately determine how much liquid and snow falls over these cities.