A damp day is on the way Tuesday with periods of light rain or drizzle. Some dense fog is also possible. The good news is that despite a lot of cloud cover still lingering around, temperature will be warming up. Temperatures will range from the low to mid 40s in the northeast to as warm as near 60° in the southwest.
The main upper level low pressure system is expected to move out into the Plains Tuesday night into Wednesday. This will bring better chances for rain and thunderstorms into the area. Rainfall at times could be heavier. It is at this time that a FLOOD WATCH will go into effect for a large portion of the area. The potential for 1 to 3 inches of rain (some falling quickly), combined with rapid snow melt, a deep layer of frozen ground, and already aggravated river levels due to ice jamming will heighten the flooding threat for much of the area. The bulk of this rain will fall from midnight through noon on Wednesday. The rain will be accompanied by some thunder.
Getting into Wednesday afternoon and evening, the surface low pressure system will be approaching from the southwest. As it gets closer one or two bands of precipitation will develop near the low. Those bands have the potential to produced an isolated severe thunderstorm. While it is unlikely, there is an outside shot at an isolated brief spin-up tornado.
Meanwhile, Wednesday morning marks the beginning of what should be a significant winter storm with blizzard conditions in Western Nebraska. By the afternoon, areas of moderate to heavy snowfall are expected west of a line from Ainsworth to Imperial. Winds will be fairly strong out of the north and will strengthen. High temperatures on Wednesday will range from as warm as 60 degrees in Southeast Nebraska to as cool as the 30s in the northwest. Some of those places in the northwest will experience falling temperatures, which will allow to rain to change over to snow. There could be a brief period of a wintry mix of precipitation during the transition from rain to snow with the best chance in North Central Nebraska.
Colder air will continue to advance east southeast heading into Wednesday night. This will be on the back of strengthening north northwest winds. After midnight, winds could get as high as 30 to 40 mph with gusts of 50 to 60 mph. Blizzard conditions are expected in the northwest with continued snowfall. Meanwhile, the rain/snow line will continue to march east southeastward as the colder air pushes in. Around or after midnight, rain should change over to snow in the Tri-Cities area. By that point, snowfall rates should get a little lower as some of the moisture from this system gets cut off by thunderstorms to our east. That said, there could be a brief period of time where a band of heavy snowfall somewhere in Central Nebraska could lead to higher snowfall rates and potential blizzard conditions. While 1 to 3 inches of snow is possible, some higher amounts around 4 or 5 inches will be possible. While conditions won't be nearly as bad as in the Panhandle, it could still get dicey early Thursday morning.
Period of snow are expected to continue on Thursday, although the snowfall rates will continue to lower over time. Snow will also start to clear out from west to east through the day and should be out of the area by the end of the day. What won't be ending is the strong winds which will continue to be strong out of the northwest. Wind speeds of 35 to 45 mph with gusts of 55 to 65 mph will continue. High temperatures will mostly be in the 30s or near 40° in the east..
Thursday night, winds speeds will slowly start to lighten, but will be quite noticeable through the night. While still blustery Friday morning, those winds will continue to lighten up through the day and should be much more tolerable by the end of the day. With mostly sunny skies on Friday, highs will range from near 30° in Northern Nebraska to the mid 40s in North Central Kansas.
Mainly sunny skies are anticipated this weekend and early next week. We shouldn't have to deal with to much wind. Highs will return well into the 40s, if not even push into the 50s for much of the area. Areas of greater snowpack will be held down the most temperature-wise.