The Winter Storm That Won't Go Away

By Justin Gehrts, Meteorologist


By Aaron Hepker

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Longtime residents of Iowa are probably aware of the winter storm curse of the high school girls’ state basketball tournament. The curse has definitely continued this year, thanks to a winter storm that shouldn’t have been a winter storm, and has become a winter storm that just won’t go away. Even as low pressure continues to weaken and get farther away from the Midwest, snow has kept falling across much of Eastern Iowa. It’s even been moderate at times. Thankfully, the winds aren’t nearly as strong as they were yesterday and last night.

Why did this system turn out so much differently than expected? One main reason is that the low pressure took a track considerably farther to the northwest than anything indicated it would. Also, the dry air that prevented snow from falling around Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, and Dubuque for a fair share of Tuesday somehow didn’t exist from Waterloo to Des Moines. We’re still trying to figure out how that happened, but it did — and that’s where the heaviest snow has fallen.

What’s stunning is that no data indicated that it would happen. In fact, Monday’s data showed that Waterloo had a decent shot at getting no snow whatsoever, and the highest computer forecast was for about a half-inch of snow there. There were some other inconsistencies and changes in computer forecast data, which obviously didn’t help. This system really has gone much, much differently than we ever expected.

The snowfall map shows the observed snowfall across the area through about noon. The C-shaped snowfall pattern in Iowa is just plain strange. It’s been one of the most bizarre snowfall events we’ve seen, but the snow will end eventually. It has to, after all — spring begins in three weeks.

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