Powerful system could bring severe storms, tornadoes to southern Wisconsin, snow to the northwest

Powerful system could bring severe storms, tornadoes to southern Wisconsin, snow to the northwest

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Spring is starting off with an unwanted bang, with a blizzard in the northern Plains and severe weather that has southern Wisconsin in the risk area for possible tornadoes, AccuWeather reported.

Severe storm risk by AccuWeather

Even if no severe weather hits the area, rain, snow and melting snow could lead to rising rivers and flooding across Wisconsin, forecasters warned.

Spring officially arrives at 10:49 p.m. Thursday with the spring equinox as much colder air is moving in and the severe weather is moving out of the area.

The same storm system that will pose a threat for severe weather on Thursday has already brought rounds of potent storms across the south-central U.S. both Tuesday and Wednesday, including a likely tornado that tracked across the western and northern suburbs of Abilene, Texas, Wednesday night.

The first round of rain is expected across Wisconsin on Thursday starting in the late morning, with the opportunity for explosive thunderstorm development in a second round later in the day. Areas where clouds manage to break for a time after the morning rain will likely face a heightened threat for severe storms later in the day, AccuWeather said.

Risk for strong to severe storms Thursday by National Weather Service

The area at risk for severe weather on Thursday includes approximately 50 million people and encompasses the major metropolitan areas of St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri; Dallas; Little Rock and Fort Smith, Arkansas; Memphis, Tennessee; Des Moines and Davenport, Iowa; Shreveport, Louisiana; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Springfield, Peoria, Chicago and Rockford, Illinois, AccuWeather said.

Rain and thunderstorms will become more numerous across the Madison area Thursday afternoon, continuing into Thursday night, with a risk for a few strong to severe storms in the evening, mainly along and south of Interstate 94, the National Weather Service said.

Strong wind gusts will be the main concern, though a brief spin-up tornado can’t be ruled out, before the severe weather risk ends around or shortly after midnight, the Weather Service said.

From a line just south of Portage, the severe weather risk drops from slight to marginal. The area of enhanced risk stretches to just southwest of Dubuque, Iowa.

The Eau Claire area is forecast to see rain that could reach more than an inch, before transitioning to snow later Thursday afternoon into the early evening, totaling 1 to 2 inches in some locations.

The La Crosse area could see severe storms with a threat for large hail and damaging winds, particularly between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., the Weather Service said.

Snow totals western Wisconsin Thursday-Friday by National Weather Service

The rain will quickly change to snow Thursday night, with accumulation up to 2 inches expected near and north of I-90.

Many rivers in the La Crosse area are predicted to rise through the weekend and into early next week, with some flooding possible depending on rainfall amounts that occur Thursday.

The Green Bay area could see storms producing hail, heavy downpours, and gusty winds, with more than an inch of rain possible. The rain is expected to transition to a wintry mix and then to snow before tapering off Friday morning, with 1 to 3 inches expected northwest of a Marshfield to Iron Mountain line, and an inch or less farther southeast, the Weather Service said.

Green Bay area residents were warned to watch for rising waterways and possible flooding.

In Madison on Thursday, look for showers and possibly a thunderstorm after 2 p.m., a high near 50, southeast winds at 5 to 10 miles per hour, and possible rain total of a quarter- and half-inch, the Weather Service said.

Overnight, look for showers and possibly a storm before 5 a.m., then showers, with a low around 30 and possible rain totals of a half-inch to three-quarters of an inch.

There is a 30% chance for rain and snow showers before 8 a.m. Friday, with mostly cloudy skies, a high near 36 and northwest winds at 15 to 20 mph, gusting as high as 30 mph.

The Weather Service said the weather will turn quiet for the weekend, with a 20% chance for snow Sunday night and Monday after 2 a.m. and before 11 a.m., a 20% chance for rain Monday night, a 40% chance for rain Tuesday, a 50% chance for rain Tuesday night, and a 40% chance for rain Wednesday.

Skies over Madison should be mostly sunny Saturday, partly sunny Sunday, and Monday, mostly cloudy Tuesday and Wednesday, with highs near 37, 42, 49, 52 and 56, and lows Friday night through Tuesday night around 19, 25, 29, 36 and 39.

27 Storm Track meteorologist Guy Brown forecasts scattered rain developing by midday Thursday, a few late day thunderstorms into the night, morning rain and snow showers Friday producing little to no accumulation, a spotty shower or flurry midday Monday, and a chance for rain Tuesday, with highs Thursday through Wednesday near 50, 45, 36, 39, 43, 49 and 52, and overnight lows around 32, 20, 24, 25, 27 and 41.

Wednesday’s high in Madison was 40 at 12:54 a.m., 4 degrees below normal and 41 degrees below the record high of 81 for March 18, set in the great March heat wave of 2012.

Wednesday’s low in Madison was 32 at 8:44 a.m., 6 degrees above normal and 34 degrees above the record low of 2 below for March 18, set in 1923, 1941 and 1959.

Officially, 0.34 inches of precipitation was recorded at the Dane County Regional Airport on Wednesday, boosting Madison’s March and meteorological spring (March through May) precipitation total (rain plus snow converted to liquid) to 1.18 inches, 0.06 inches above normal. Madison’s 2020 precipitation total rose to 3.86 inches, 0.06 inches above normal.

Madison’s record precipitation for March 18 is 0.8 inches in 1923 and 1971.

The 2.1 inches of snow on Wednesday boosted Madison’s March and meteorological spring (March through May) total to 2.8 inches, 1.9 inches below normal. For the snow season (since July 1), Madison has received 53.5 inches, 7.7 inches above normal.

Madison's record snowfall for March 18 is 12 inches in 1971.


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