Forecasters say another winter storm is headed for Iowa that has the potential to drop significant snow on parts of the state. Meteorologist Roger Vachalek, at the National Weather Service, says this system should drop the deepest snow on a different area of Iowa from last week’s storm. He says the system will arrive late tonight and early tomorrow and it should bring snow to the southeastern half of the state. The heaviest totals are expected in the southeast. Cities like Ottumwa, Fairfield, Burlington and Keokuk could see between five and nine inches of snow. Parts of central Iowa may only see two to four inches, with little-to-no snow expected in the northwest. Vachalek says there’s another issue with this approaching storm.
Some strong winds may accompany the storm, with gusts around 15 to 25 miles an hour, so blowing snow could become a visibility problem for motorists. The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch for parts of southeast and south-central Iowa from late tonight into Tuesday. Cities in the advisory include: Lamoni, Ottumwa, Iowa City and Davenport. In far southeast Iowa, Lee and Des Moines counties are under a Winter Storm Warning from 3 tomorrow morning until midnight tomorrow night. Late last week, another snowstorm coated much of Iowa in white, dumping the most snow in the Sioux City area, which reported ten inches.
Whether the drought continues or not, Iowa farmers will soon be able to check soil moisture levels at a dozen key spots statewide.
Elwynn Taylor, an agronomist at the Iowa State University Extension, says moisture levels can vary greatly over short distances, but this new network will offer farmers good ballpark figures. “People that have a sandy place and a place with clay already know they have great differences,” Taylor says, “but still, if we have some idea on a very common soil for the county, if we know what is going on there, it will give an idea of how things are changing and the likely direction it will be moving in.”
I-S-U’s Department of Agronomy is upgrading weather stations at several research and demonstration farms. At least 12 should be fully functional in several weeks when spring arrives. Farmers can always dig a hole themselves to try and gauge the soil moisture, but Taylor says doing so accurately is a hassle. “To really know, you have to get a measure of soil from a certain depth, weigh it, dry it, weigh it again and see how much water the drying removed from it to know how much water was really there in your soil,” Taylor says. “It gets to be a real headache and, of course, people aren’t going to do that on a day by day, week by week, month by month basis.”
At each station, moisture sensors will be placed a foot, two feet and four feet deep in the soil. Readings will be taken every 15 minutes and sent by cellular phone text messages to the network. Each station costs about 12-thousand dollars to buy and install. It’s hoped the network of weather stations can be expanded so there’s one in every county, but for now, a dozen will give a good snapshot of drought conditions to help farmers manage their risks. “If you see that the weather station received an inch of rain and the soil moisture has moved up to such and such a level from where it was at the moisture station, and you know that at your farm because of the gauge out on your post that you got an inch and a quarter, you probably did a little better,” Taylor says, “or if you got half an inch, you didn’t do as well.”
The new weather stations replace ones that have been monitoring data at the farms for more than 30 years. Taylor said the original units made up the world’s first non-military network of automatic reporting weather stations. The weather stations will also measure rainfall, air and soil temperature, humidity, sunlight, wind speed and direction. A solar collector powers the units.
The Freese-Notis forecast for Atlantic & the KJAN listening area, and weather data for Atlantic…
A storm will arrive Tuesday morning in southern Iowa and lift northeast during the day.
Moderate to heavy snowfall is still expected across the southeast half of the state with the heavier totals in the southeast and over Missouri. High pressure over the northern Plains may reduce some of the storms snowfall over the region and a slight shift in the track may also cause some adjustment in snowfall amounts. Even with those uncertainties strong north winds will cause blowing snow and reduced visibility over the southeast and portions of central Iowa. Interested persons are urged to check the latest forecasts today and tonight.
340 AM CST MON FEB 25 2013
TODAY…CLOUDY. A 20 PERCENT CHANCE OF LIGHT SNOW IN THE MORNING. HIGH IN THE UPPER 30S. NORTHEAST WIND 5 TO 15 MPH.
TONIGHT…CLOUDY WITH A 50 PERCENT CHANCE OF SNOW. BREEZY. LOW IN THE MID 20S. NORTHEAST WIND 10 TO 20 MPH.
TUESDAY…CLOUDY WITH A 50 PERCENT CHANCE OF SNOW. BREEZY. HIGH IN THE LOWER 30S. NORTH WIND 15 TO 20 MPH.
TUESDAY NIGHT…CLOUDY WITH A 40 PERCENT CHANCE OF LIGHT SNOW. LOW IN THE MID 20S. NORTH WIND AROUND 15 MPH WITH GUSTS TO AROUND 25 MPH.
WEDNESDAY…CLOUDY WITH A 20 PERCENT CHANCE OF LIGHT SNOW. BREEZY. HIGH IN THE LOWER 30S. NORTHWEST WIND 15 TO 20 MPH WITH GUSTS TO AROUND 30 MPH.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT…MOSTLY CLOUDY. BREEZY. LOW AROUND 20.
THURSDAY THROUGH FRIDAY…PARTLY CLOUDY. HIGH IN THE LOWER 30S. LOW 15 TO 20.
Some fog will be possible tonight. If the fog develops, there could be some patchy dense fog which may deposit some ice on roadways or sidewalks with temperatures below freezing. The fog may persist into Sunday morning. A slow moving storm system will exit the Rockies and lift east northeastward through the central US Sunday into Monday and into the Great Lakes toward mid week. This will allow for continued chances for snowfall across much of Iowa throughout the beginning of the work week. Initially this system will spread some light snow across mainly western Iowa Sunday night into Monday with general accumulations around an inch or less. As the system moves from MO into IL, additional snow will spread across much of central Iowa Monday night through Wednesday. This could bring some light accumulations to much of central Iowa, with moderate to heavy accumulations of snow possible across portions of south central and southeastern Iowa. Breezy conditions are also expected.
There are no surprises in the statewide outlook being issued for the spring flood season. Jeff Zogg, senior hydrologist with the National Weather Service office in metro Des Moines, says it appears the drought that plagued Iowa most of last year will continue into 2013. One upside of that is — flooding is less likely. “The spring flood risk is lower than normal statewide, however, across the north-central part of the state, there’s a little bit of a different situation,” Zogg says. “We have a combination of frozen ground and some ice in the upper layers of the soil which may result in more runoff than we’d otherwise expect once the snow melts and we get any kind of rainfall in the spring.”
While 2012 was one of Iowa’s driest years in decades, the report indicates there’s no alteration in course coming in the weeks ahead. “Since the risk of flooding is lower than normal, that just infers that the drought conditions are continuing,” Zogg says. “We see no indications right now that there’s going to be a significant change in the dry conditions we’ve been experiencing.”
The worst drought conditions are in the northwest half of Iowa. The state’s snow pack is below-normal, except for the upper-most portion of the Des Moines River basin in southwest Minnesota where it is above normal. For Iowa’s farmers, the report means more headaches and scanning the skies, praying for rain. “The soil moisture conditions statewide are below normal,” Zogg says. “They’re driest across the northwest part of the state and a little bit closer to normal across the southeast part of Iowa and that’s been the theme since last summer.”
A report in December claimed Iowa would need eight feet of snow this winter to make up for the rainfall we lacked all of last year. Zogg isn’t sure about that eight-foot figure but says the end result is still the same. “The fact of the matter is, we are definitely dry and we are going to need a prolonged period of above-normal precipitation to end the drought,” Zogg says. “Unfortunately, with snowfall, the water content is lower obviously than if it falls as rain, so snowfall itself won’t make much of an impact. It’s also important that we don’t receive it all at once, especially as rainfall, because that will result in flooding.”
PERVICAL, Iowa (AP) – The big storm system that dumped a half foot or more of snow on some parts of Iowa may have fallen short of some expectations. Kelly Malone is a shift manager at the Pilot Flying J station and store that sits along Iowa Highway 2 just west of Interstate 29 in southwest Iowa. Malone said Friday that things were pretty hectic at the Flying J on Thursday, as customers stopped briefly for fuel or food while hustling to beat the storm.
His company had taken precautions by reserving seven rooms for employees at the nearby Super 8 Motel. Malone says, “We were prepared for the worst, but it didn’t happen that bad. To me it was just an average storm, but I’m a person who drives through anything.”
The National Weather Service said snowfall across the area ranged from 5-to 6-inches across the southwest corner of the state, from 3.5-to 5-inches across Ringgold and Taylor Counties northwestward to portions of Pottawattamie and Harrison Counties. Other areas received anywhere from 2-to 3-inches of snow.
Snowfall reports from around southwest/western Iowa (as of 6-a.m.):
Atlantic (@ KJAN) 4.5″…..Villisca 6″…..Malvern 6.5″
The Iowa Department of Transportation (511ia.org) reports that as of 6:25-a.m, roadways in southwest Iowa, west of the Cass/Adair County line and along and south of I-80, were partially or mostly covered with snow. Towing services are prohibited. Other roads around the listening area are completely covered with snow, and towing services are prohibited.