Significant storm system expected mid to late week

First Alert Storm Team Meteorologist Corey Thompson looks ahead toward a larger storm system that approaches eastern Iowa by Wednesday and beyond.
Published: Dec. 18, 2022 at 8:52 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A one-two punch of weather systems this week will bring disruptions to travel, as well as significantly increase the chances for a white Christmas.

The first storm system will arrive on Monday and give eastern Iowa a chance for a round of light snow. Accumulations will generally be in the trace to 2 inch range, with the best chance for amounts exceeding an inch in our northwestern counties (think northwest of Waterloo). Even small amounts will be enough to potentially cause some slick roadways during the Monday evening commute. Plan on a little extra time for the drive home.

Tuesday will be a bit of a break between systems. But, a second storm will be developing in the Plains and moving toward the Midwest. This will be the one to watch in terms of greater overall impact, and an impact that could linger into the end of the work week.

What we know

The second storm system is looking rather strong, if the bulk of weather computer models we use to make our forecast are to be believed. Conceptually, it will be a storm system that has the capability of producing a large area of accumulating snow, some of which would add up to significant amounts.

The strength of the low-pressure system and the high-pressure trailing it will cause a large pressure gradient, which will lead to strong winds at the surface. Gusts above 35 mph look possible from Thursday night into Friday. Given the expected fluffier nature of the snow that could fall, this would likely cause significant blowing and drifting of snow.

Travel impacts are likely during the period from Wednesday through Friday. If you’re planning on driving or flying from eastern Iowa to other locations, especially those in Midwest or along the east coast, you could run into disruptions.

What we’re working on

The storm is still several days away at this point, with the computer models we use to help make our forecasts still showing disagreement in the exact strength and track of the system. We often hammer this point home every winter storm that small changes in those can cause large changes in the eventual outcome. There has been some consolidation on a storm track that would put eastern Iowa at risk for significant accumulating snow, but we’d like to see a little consistency on that in the next day or so to gain some confidence in that outcome.

As a result of that uncertainty, it’s too early to discuss the amounts of snowfall expected.

What you should do now

If you have travel plans from Wednesday through Thursday, you should start thinking of alternate scenarios in case you need to change those plans. At this point the worst of those three days would be Thursday into Friday as the system wraps up and winds increase.

You should consider checking on the usual things that you might before the first bigger winter storm of the season. Try and start your snowblower to make sure it’s in good working order, and check on the durability of your shovels. Look at driveway salt supplies and determine if it’s time to replenish.

With the expected cold air, especially from Thursday onward when wind chills will stay below zero for days, make sure that you have proper winter clothing to keep yourself safe from frostbite. Hat, gloves, scarves, and heavy coats will all be needed during this time.

If you don’t have one ready, consider getting together a winter survival kit for your vehicle, which could include:

  • First Aid Kit
  • Jumper cables
  • Emergency flares
  • Bottled water and snacks
  • Flashlight
  • Sand or cat litter for traction
  • Blankets to keep warm
  • Cell phone charger

We’ll be watching through the coming days and providing additional updates on-air, here on, and through the KCRG-TV9 First Alert Weather app.