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13 Jan 2021 | 03:34 PM UTC

US, Canada: Storm system to bring periods of snow to central regions Jan. 14-15

Winter storm system to bring periods of snow, strong winds to portions of the central US and Canada Jan. 14-15. Disruptions possible.

communications/technology
transportation
environment
CAN
USA

Event

A storm system known as an "Alberta Clipper" will bring periods of snow to portions of the Upper Midwest region of the US, as well as south-central Canada, Jan. 14-15. The affected areas include eastern North Dakota, eastern South Dakota, northeastern Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, northwestern Illinois, western and central Wisconsin, and Michigan's Upper Peninsula in the US, as well as southern Manitoba and southwestern Ontario in Canada. Forecast models indicate initial bands of precipitation will develop in Manitoba and Minnesota early Jan. 14 before spreading southward and eastward toward Iowa and Wisconsin in the morning hours. The precipitation may initially begin as rain, sleet, or freezing rain in some locations. By the afternoon, the snow will become more intense as it encompasses northwestern Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Snow will then spread into Ontario, Jan. 15, but the snow bands will remain over the entire region until late Jan. 15 or Jan. 16. Some uncertainty remains in the forecast track of the system, and snow amounts are subject to changes over the coming days.

Government Advisories
As of the afternoon of Jan. 13, the US National Weather Service (NWS) has issued winter storm watches for western Wisconsin, northern Iowa, and southeastern Minnesota; this area includes Minneapolis-Saint Paul. Meanwhile, winter weather advisories are in effect for northern Minnesota and eastern North Dakota. Authorities in the US and Canada will likely issue new alerts or update/rescind existing advisories as the winter storm transits the region over the coming days.

Hazardous Conditions
The latest forecast guidance indicates that widespread accumulations of 10-20 cm (4-8 inches) of snow are expected in the hardest-hit areas, including eastern Minnesota, northern Iowa, and northwestern Wisconsin; this area includes Minneapolis. Locally higher totals of up to 38 cm (15 inches) are possible in regions that experience persistent banding. Accumulations of 5-10 cm (2-4 inches) are expected across the rest of the affected area, with the lowest totals forecast near Lake Michigan. In addition to the heavy snow, strong wind gusts could lead to periods of blowing and drifting snow. Sporadic power outages are likely throughout the affected area.

Transport
The inclement weather will likely cause widespread ground and air transport disruptions across the affected area through at least Jan. 15. Traffic and commercial trucking delays are possible along regional highways including the I-29, I-35, I-39 I-41, I-43, I-75, I-80, I-90, and I-94 corridors in the US, as well as the Trans-Canada Highway. Difficult and potentially dangerous driving conditions are also likely on secondary and rural roadways in the affected states as maintenance crews prioritize clearing major routes. Authorities could close stretches of highway if driving conditions become too hazardous. Gusty winds may threaten to topple high-profile vehicles throughout the affected area. Heavy wet snow and strong winds could bring down power lines and trees with foliage. Flight delays and cancellations are likely due to ground stops and deicing operations at regional airports, including those serving Minneapolis (MSP) and Winnipeg (YWG).

Advice

Monitor local media for updated weather information. Verify road conditions before driving in areas where heavy snowfall is forecast. Allow extra time to reach destinations in these areas and carry an emergency kit and warm clothes if driving is necessary, especially on secondary or rural routes that could become impassable. Plan accordingly for delivery delays if routing shipments by truck through the affected area through at least Jan. 15. Confirm flights. Charge battery-powered devices in the case of prolonged electricity outages.

Resources

National Weather Service
US Road Conditions
Meteorological Service of Canada

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