By Alex Sosnowski
Expert Senior Meteorologist, AccuWeather.com
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — A blizzard will unfold near the Colorado/Kansas border Wednesday, Dec. 19, and roll northeastward to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and central Ontario by late Thursday, Dec. 20.
The storm will become known for high winds over the Plains, Midwest and eventually the East.
Over the Plains and the Upper Midwest, where snow falls and wind gusts reach 50 mph, extensive blowing and drifting snow is in store with local whiteout conditions.
Widespread travel problems are anticipated with this storm.
Expect delays at airports in the path of the storms and ripple-effect delays in other parts of the nation. The storm will have direct impact on Chicago, Detroit and Minneapolis.
Travel could come to a crawl or even stop for a time on major highways, including I-35, I-39, I-43, I-70, I-75, I-80, I-90 and I-196.
Cities in the path of the blizzard include Russell, Kan., Omaha, Neb., Des Moines, Iowa, Green Bay, Wis., and Marquette, Mich. Many of these cities can pick up between 6 inches to a foot of snow. Up to a few inches of snow are forecast to fall on Minneapolis.
Cities at risk for a quick freeze-up and icy travel, with a lesser amount of snow, include Kansas City, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Chicago, Milwaukee, South Bend, Ind., and Grand Rapids, Mich.
The storm bringing heavy snow to the Intermountain West and Great Basin Tuesday, Dec. 18, will take a northeasterly path over the Plains and Upper Midwest, strengthening along the way.
The winds alone can be strong enough to down large tree limbs, cause minor property damage and bring power outages.
Lake-effect snow and high winds will also be a factor in the wake of the storm and may blend in during the tail end of the storm snow and blizzard in some areas.
This has the potential to be the most significant lake-effect event of the season so far from Lake Superior to lakes Erie and Ontario, and potentially could be the heaviest lake-effect event of the winter for some locations.
South of the blizzard and freeze-up, needed rain will fall on part of the Ohio and Lower Mississippi valleys. However, a severe weather outbreak is also a possibility in the South and in the lower part of the Midwest.
Posted Dec. 18, 2012