Coastal Flood Advisory

Spring snowstorm to bury Rockies, northern Plains as temperatures plummet

By Renee Duff, AccuWeather meteorologist
March 30, 2019, 3:55:01 AM EDT

A snowstorm will threaten difficult travel across portions of the Rockies and northern Plains as cold air returns into Friday night.

The warmth from earlier this week when highs were in the 60s and 70s F should not have fooled residents into putting snow shovels and winter clothing away just yet.

Temperatures will plummet 20-40 degrees Fahrenheit as cold air wraps in behind a strengthening storm system across the nation's midsection.

For example, in Cheyenne, Wyoming, following a high of 68 on Wednesday and 58 on Thursday, temperatures were hovering in the lower 30s during Friday afternoon.

Snow Spreads

"Areas from Wyoming to western Nebraska are likely to receive the most snow," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson.

Snow will extend from southeastern Idaho, eastward to northwestern Iowa and southward through parts of western and central Colorado into Friday night..

Casper and Cheyenne, Wyoming; Rapid City, South Dakota; and Scottsbluff and North Platte, Nebraska, are among the communities where shovels and plows may be needed to remove several inches of snow. Just over 5 inches of snow had accumulated near North Platte as of early Friday afternoon.

Thunder and lightning will accompany the snow over parts of Nebraska and Iowa.

"An AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 12 inches is forecast near the borders of Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.

Snow Map 3 pm

Disruptions to travel and daily routines can occur.

Download the free AccuWeather app to see just how much snow is expected to fall in your area.

At this point in the year, snow must fall at a fast enough pace during the daylight hours in order to stick on paved surfaces.

AccuWeather meteorologists are concerned snowfall rates will be high enough with this event for roads and sidewalks to become snow-covered even during the daytime.

As the snow initially falls, roadways will be wet due to warmth stored in the pavement. However, as the pace of the snow increases and cold air plunges in, roadway conditions can turn slippery in a hurry.

While the heaviest snow is expected to fall north of the Denver metro area, plunging temperatures and a period of light snow late Friday can create slippery travel.

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Although winds will not be nearly as strong as the bomb cyclone from earlier in March, locally gusty weather can create reduced visibility at times.

This storm will tack on to the already impressive March snowfall for the area, with snow totals running 150-310 percent of normal in parts of Wyoming and Nebraska.

Scottsbluff, which receives 7.8 inches of snow on average in March, has picked up over 3 times this amount thus far.

"Some of this new snow and remaining older snow from the winter will eventually melt and join the high water levels along the Missouri River in the coming days and weeks," Sosnowski said.

Rain and thunderstorms along the southeastern flank of the storm will add to the flooding woes across the Central states.

As the storm moves eastward, just enough cold air may catch up to the northern edge of the rain to allow a period of snow from southern Wisconsin to central Ontario.

"However, this snow band is highly dependent on the storm track and extent of dry air north of the storm," Sosnowski said.

Snow stripe 3 pm

"Both may be such to allow little or no snow in this same swath," Sosnowski said.

A second and weaker storm may produce a narrow stripe of snow farther to the south from northern Ohio to northern New York state.

Regardless of how much snow falls along this swath, the Midwest will be plunged into a chilly end to March and beginning of April behind the storm.

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