Snow Kansas City to Marquette, Water for the Mississippi

By , Senior Meteorologist
January 30, 2013; 8:11 PM ET
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A second swath of snow in two days continued to affect part of the northern Plains, the Upper Midwest and Ontario Wednesday. Rain and severe thunderstorms will occur farther east.

Snow and a Return of Arctic Air

As colder air begins an eastward drive across the Plains, storms running along the advancing air will bring a swath of snow into Wednesday from central and northeastern Kansas to southeastern Nebraska, northwestern Missouri, much of Iowa, southeastern Minnesota, much of Wisconsin, Upper Michigan and central Ontario.

While snow is forecast to generally be on the light side in Kansas City, up to half a foot of snow can fall on portions of Iowa, including Des Moines, central Wisconsin, including La Crosse and Green Bay, and Marquette in Michigan.

Slow and slippery travel can be expected along a long stretch of I-35 and portions of I-80, I-90 and I-94.

The snow precedes a blast of arctic air that will be accompanied by strong winds. Temperatures will dip below zero before the end of the week from Nebraska and Iowa on north.

Any untreated wet and slushy areas will freeze.

Temperatures may struggle to climb above zero in Minneapolis on Thursday and may stay well below zero in Fargo from Wednesday evening through Friday morning.

Meanwhile, temperatures in Chicago and Kansas City reached record high levels prior to sunrise Tuesday.

The air coming into Chicago Wednesday will have tremendous shock value. Chicago is likely to have at least two days where high temperatures are no better than the teens Thursday and Friday.

Moisture for the Mississippi River

In St. Louis, Mo., thunderstorms rumbled through on Tuesday. However, the same system bringing the warmth and thunder contributed to needed rain on tributaries of the Mississippi River in the region.

A couple of inches of rain fell on the Illinois River basin, which feeds into the Mississippi River above St. Louis.

River levels on the Upper Mississippi were flirting with record lows much of the winter.

Frigid air and a hard freeze moving in will lock up the water quickly. However, any upward movement of the river levels, no matter how brief would be a boost for transportation on the ailing waterway.

Rain also fell on rivers in Missouri, including the river by the same name that feeds into the Mississippi above and below Cairo, Ill.

River levels farther south on the Mississippi from the Ohio River junction to New Orleans have risen dramatically over the winter due to frequent storms. In some cases the Lower Mississippi River was flirting with minor flooding.

Farther upstream, while the snow events may seem minor, the cumulative effect of the nickel-and-dime snow may be critical for water levels and agriculture come spring.

While snowfall over the region as a whole has not been great, it is ahead of last year in areas from eastern Nebraska to Wisconsin. The blizzard that hit on Dec. 19 and 20, 2012, was largely responsible for this.

The December blizzard and other lesser snowfall, combined with rain in southern and eastern areas, will translate to more runoff with the most recent thaw or that which follows later in February and March. ( image and thumbnails)/

Chicago remains in a snow drought. The upcoming transition to arctic air is only likely to muster a small amount of snow. Farther west precipitation has been stingy over the High Plains and the outlook looks bleak into the spring.

For those wondering about spring. has released its forecast for the upcoming season.


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