The Ottumwa Courier

Wapello County

December 18, 2012

Forecasters predict 'near blizzard' conditions with storm

DES MOINES — The National Weather Service is warning people not to take this week's winter storm lightly.

Snow is expected to move into the area late Wednesday and continue through midday Thursday. It is expected to begin as rain, and the timing of the change from rain to snow will be critical in determining how much accumulates.

While the NWS has not released any specific snowfall estimates for Ottumwa as of Tuesday morning, it says 5-8 inches of snow is expected in the watch area. Forecasters say some areas could see up to 10 inches of snow.

Heavy snow is one thing, but forecasters are also worried about wind. The NWS expects sustained winds of 25-33 mph, with gusts as high as 45 mph. That, they predict, will cause "blizzard or near blizzard conditions," for some areas. It will also cause significant drifting.

The bottom line for area residents is that travel conditions will be difficult at best. Once the snow starts, staying home is probably your safest bet.

You can read the text version of the winter storm watch for the area by clicking here.

You can find the NWS web briefing on the storm by clicking here.

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UPDATE 3:40 p.m.: The winter storm watch has been upgraded to a winter storm warning. You can see the latest information from the National Weather Service, including snow forecasts, by clicking here.

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