The Ottumwa Courier

February 19, 2013

Storm coming, but snowfall amount uncertain

MATT MILNER
CNHI

OTTUMWA — Another snowstorm is moving into the Midwest. We'll see snow, but how much is still anyone's guess.

The National Weather Service has been listing southeast Iowa's chances of snow on Thursday at 100 percent since the weekend. That's unsusually far in advance of a given day. But they aren't forecasting amounts just yet.

The NWS tends to be conservative about releasing the forecast for specific amounts of snow or rain, with those estimates appearing only a day or two in advance. In this case there's even more reason to play it safe: The storm's predicted track has varied considerably with the different models.

A shift of even 25-50 miles can make a major difference. One of the storms earlier this year put Ottumwa in the center of the target, only to shift late. Pella and Knoxville were nailed, but Ottumwa saw less than six inches of snow instead of the predicted 10 inches or more.

Accuweather.com isn't as shy about estimating amounts in advance. They're predicting 4-8 inches of snow in in southeast Iowa. The Weather Channel is predicting the storm will hit farther west, with eastern Iowa seeing only 1-3 inches of snow.

There's another wild card with this storm, according to forecasters. It's not clear whether the storm will be strengthening or weakening when it reaches Iowa. That could also make major differences in terms of snowfall.

The bottom line: We'll see snow. We just don't know how much.