Strong storm to affect large portion of U.S.
A large, dynamic storm system will sweep across the country over the next few days, bringing anything from blizzard-like conditions to thunderstorms! The system has already pummeled parts of southern California with several inches of rain. That rain fell in a short duration of time over areas previously burned by large wildfires. In fact, some parts of the county saw nearly half of their annual rainfall in just 36 hours! One area that was hit particularly hard was Santa Barbara County, where intense mudslides occurred due to the heavy rain. The heavy rain combined with a lack of vegetation led to perfect conditions for mudslides.
The mudslides are already responsible for 15 deaths, and many more are still unaccounted for in Santa Barbara County. The system has moved out of California, and dry conditions are expected over the next several days.
Now, that same system is going to bring a large variety of weather to much of the Lower 48 east of the Rockies. This includes snowfall across the Upper Midwest, Northern Plains, and northern Great Lakes, where winter weather alerts are in place. Meanwhile, rain and perhaps some thunderstorms will sweep across the Southern Plains, Missouri Valley, Tennessee Valley, Southeast, and a large chunk of the eastern seaboard. The reason behind it being rain for so many is due to the warm air and moisture that the low will draw northward. Record high temperatures in the 50s are possible as far north as Michigan! There could be 60s as far north as Indiana and Ohio!
Severe weather does not appear likely, but this system will wound up and strong, meaning strong winds will likely accompany the rain showers in parts of the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys, as well as the Great Lakes. This includes strong wind gusts of 30-40 MPH, if not stronger, in Michiana!
Once the cold air starts spilling into Michiana Thursday night, our precipitation will likely change to freezing rain or a wintry mix of freezing rain, sleet and wet snow. The wintry precipitation is not expected to last that long, but there could certainly be travel issues and slick roads Thursday night and Friday. Meanwhile, a secondary low pressure system will ride up the Appalachian Mountains Friday into Saturday. That will likely keep our region safe from any significant winter storm, but areas like Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, southeast Indiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and New York have a high probability of seeing disruptive winter weather. That could range from significant ice accumulation to heavy snowfall.
The complex system will finally exit the country late this weekend after dumping snow in parts of the Northeast and New England and rain along the coast. By the time all is said and done, it will have travel over 1,000 miles from southern California to northern New England!
As of Wednesday evening, there are millions under Winter Weather Advisories, Winter Storm Watches and Winter Storm Warnings from the Upper Midwest and Northern Plains to the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys. The coverage of these alerts is expected to increase as we near Friday due to the threat of significant winter weather in parts of Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio. That may include Michiana for a wintry mix of precipitation Thursday night and Friday morning. Stay tuned!