First usage of Snow Squall Warning in eastern Iowa on Monday
Early Monday afternoon, you may have seen an alert for a “Snow Squall Warning” online, on your phone, or on your television on KCRG-TV9. This was the first time one has been issued in eastern Iowa.
A Snow Squall Warning is a new type of weather alert from the National Weather Service; it was being tested last winter but none needed to be issued.
A snow squall is a narrow burst of heavy snow that sometimes comes with gusty wind. It can significantly lower visibility, causing a brief and localized whiteout, kind of like a mini-blizzard. Many of the large highway pile-ups in winter happen in snow squalls. Travel is discouraged while one is happening because road conditions can become dangerous surprisingly quickly.
A Snow Squall Warning is similar to a Severe Thunderstorm Warning that’s issued for a line of storms. It’s fairly small in size, covering parts of just a handful of counties at a time as the line of snow moves through. It’s also short-lived, lasting less than an hour. And just like warnings for thunderstorms, not everybody in the warning may actually get the worst of it.