Massive February Storm Expected to Bring Snow to the Midwest and Severe Weather to the South
Written by Sarrah Pelorus
Last updated 2/16/2022, 5:25:03 PM
A massive storm system is forecast to bring snow, rain, floods, wind and severe weather to much of the central, eastern and southern U.S. on Wednesday and Thursday. On the cold side of the storm, snow is likely Wednesday and into Thursday from northern Texas to northern New England. Meanwhile in the South, more than 20 million people are at risk of severe weather, including a threat of tornadoes, on Thursday, according to the Storm Prediction Center.
As the system pushes warm air north out ahead, strong winds and a few tornadoes are likely from the storms trekking east from Texas through the Deep South on Wednesday and Thursday. The Southeast and Mid-Atlantic will likely see thunderstorms as well.
On the storm’s back side, cold temperatures will flip rain to snow. Forecasters are predicting hefty accumulations in places such as Kansas City, Milwaukee and Lansing, Michigan., with less clear forecast through Chicago and Detroit. By Friday, subzero temperatures are expected to creep into the Upper Midwest and parts of the Great Lakes, with wind chills dipping below minus -10.
Last Monday, a high-altitude disturbance containing cold air, low pressure and spin was present west of Graham Island, British Columbia. This disturbance will continue gliding south through the Northeast Pacific before moving ashore the Pacific Northwest on Monday evening. A bit of rain is possible in Washington State and Oregon during the evening hours.
From there, the disturbance will strengthen as it sags toward the Four Corners region by Wednesday night. At the same time, a zone of low pressure will begin to materialize over Texas. This approaching disturbance will intensify the low, giving rise to what will become our storm. Low pressure spins counterclockwise;
Therefore, the southerly winds ahead of the system will abject, or tug, the warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico northward. This will cause colder air from Canada that will slosh into the central United States. In between, a cold front will trail the low-pressure system as it charges northeast from the Plains into the Great Lakes and southern Ontario. After the clash of pressure collides with the cold front, heavy rain is expected as moisture pools along the front, while strong upper-level winds will drastically increase the risk of windy or tornadic thunderstorms in the South.
As a large part of the country is dealt with storms of ice and snow, the other will be met with some unusual temperature changes.
Although the temperatures aren’t likely to break any records, they will be above where they would usually be this time of year. In Dallas, Oklahoma City, Houston and Jackson, Miss., temperatures could climb into the mid-70s on Wednesday,
By Thursday, the heat will migrate eastward through Nashville and Lexington, Ky., with temperatures expected to reach the mid to upper 60s. Boston and New York, both typically in the lower 40s in February, could see a spike up to 60. Washington and Baltimore may hit the upper 60s as well.
The spring has already started to usher in unpredictable weather patterns. This year is no exception as the cold front will merge with a dryline, or the leading edge of dry air from the Desert Southwest, which will move east across Texas on Wednesday. This will support the development of a broken line of strong to severe thunderstorms along and east of Interstate 35 from northeast Texas to southeast Oklahoma. The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center has issued a level 2 out of 5 “slight risk” for severe weather on Wednesday with a chance that the category could be upgraded in the days ahead.
Storms will probably merge into a line Wednesday night with gusty to damaging winds as the squall shifts into Arkansas and Louisiana. Mississippi and west Tennessee could see storms into Thursday, with Alabama in line for storms by the evening. Damaging winds will be the main concern, though a few embedded spin-up tornadoes are possible too.
On Thursday evening, heavy rain will move toward the Interstate 95 corridor on the Eastern Seaboard, with estimates expected of an inch to an inch and a half of rain. Localized flooding could become a concern in some select areas. Snow and cold air behind the cold front, wrapping northwest around the low-pressure system will fall in cool air, creating a narrow area of snowfall that will migrate from around northeast Kansas towards Chicago later brushing Michigan as it later moves into Canada. The band of heaviest snow may be only one hundred or so miles wide, making the exact location of landfall difficult to predict.
Snow will begin to expand along the front overnight Wednesday into Thursday morning; The snow is expected to increase in coverage and intensity by dawn. Snowfall rates may be briefly moderate to locally heavy, topping an inch per hour. It is likely that many areas will wind up with 4 to 8 inches of snow by Thursday night. Currently, the greatest areas with the highest probability of heavy snow accumulation include northwest Missouri, southeast Iowa, northern Illinois and central Michigan. A few spots may pick up 12 to 18 inches.
Spring is just around the corner, and with it comes sporadic unpredictable weather. Stay ahead of the storms with us at weatherTAP.com. Use the promo code: WINTER22A for 10% and get coverage all year long with annual subscription. Act fast as this promo is only available until 2/23/22.