The coldest air of the season is set to arrive this weekend and it will come in with a lot of fanfare! A Blizzard Warning has now been issued for Thursday for parts of Central Iowa and a Winter Weather Advisory in other areas.
Once the blizzard passes, the cold arrives. Morning low temperatures are forecast to dip below zero for the first time this winter and wind chills will go below -20° by early Friday morning and will be there again during the weekend overnights. Daytime highs will only be in the single digits.
Temperatures this cold have not been felt in Central Iowa since Valentine’s Day 2020. That’s when Des Moines had a high of 4° on the 13th and a low of -5° on the 14th.
The drop in temperature gets started with a strong cold front that will cross the state on Thursday. Temperatures will stay mild late Wednesday night through early Thursday in the mid-30s through the night. Moisture will build in along the front and drizzle and spotty showers will start to develop across Central Iowa around 5 AM. The rain showers will continue for the Des Moines Metro through 8 AM with snow already falling in western Iowa, impacting travel early on in western Iowa and along I-80 west of Des Moines.
The transition to snow in the Des Moines Metro will happen between 8 and 9 AM. The snow will come down heavy and begin to accumulate through mid morning.
The snow will start to taper off after 1 PM in the Des Moines Metro and continue heavy in eastern Iowa.
The winds will start to pick up across western Iowa mid-day through the afternoon. The winds will gust up over 40 mph. Blowing snow will be a problem from the afternoon through early Friday morning.
Snowfall amounts will range from 1 to 3″ across Central Iowa with some isolated higher amounts in northern Iowa.
The cold air spills into the state on Friday with wind chills starting off colder than -20° early Friday morning in Northern Iowa. The winds will stay blustery through the weekend with wind chills lower than -10° through the weekend and especially in the overnights.
This lines of with the NOAA Climate Outlook for the next 8 to 14 days showing a high likelihood of well below average temperatures for the Upper Midwest, including here in Iowa.