After record high temp, winter returns

2013-01-29T14:00:00Z 2013-01-30T08:43:58Z After record high temp, winter returnsBrian Wellner and Steven Martens The Quad-City Times
January 29, 2013 2:00 pm  • 

One wouldn’t have known from Tuesday’s heat wave that the next 24 hours would bring a snowstorm that threatens to remind the Quad-Cities how nasty Mother Nature can get.

Overnight rain was expected to turn to snow by daybreak and continue throughout the day, with 3-5 inches expected, National Weather Service meteorologist Tom Philip said Tuesday night.

The snow is expected to be accompanied by sustained winds of 20 to 30 miles per hour, with gusts up to 40 miles per hour.

“That will cause some blowing and drifting of the snow falling,” Philip said.

Tonight will be mostly cloudy and blustery with a low of about 10 degrees. Wind chill values could be as low as minus

5 degrees.

Today’s storm would be a far cry from Tuesday’s record-high of 62 degrees. The temperature is expected to plummet into the 20s today and drop even further into the teens the rest of the week.

“It’s what happens in this part of the country,” weather service meteorologist David Sheets said. “It’s unusual for January. This kind of weather is more typical in March.”

Parts of the Midwest didn’t know whether to be cold or warm on Tuesday. After a high temperature of 65 degrees, the mercury stood at a balmy 55 degrees at 8 p.m. in Chicago. But while the Quad-Cities enjoyed temperatures in the 50s, places such as Des Moines and Cedar Rapids were shivering in the 30s, Sheets said.

He said a cold front quickly pushed its way across Iowa, pulling down frigid air from Canada. Tuesday’s unseasonably warm weather came from a strong southerly wind that pulled warm air up from the Gulf of Mexico, Sheets said.

“It was a clash of weather regimes,” he said.

Across the country, the rapidly changing conditions created a risk of tornadoes, and the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., said the threat was greatest in northeast Texas, northern Louisiana, northwest Mississippi, southeast Missouri and much of Arkansas.

On Monday, the National Weather Service predicted a “moderate” risk of severe weather more than 24 hours out, only the fifth time it had done so in January in the past 15 years, said Gregory Carbin, the director of the Storm Prediction Center.

“We expect many reports of damaging winds before the night is out, as well as tornadoes,” said Bill Bunting, operations chief for the Storm Prediction Center.

The nation has had its longest break between tornado fatalities since detailed tornado records began being kept in 1950, according to the Storm Prediction Center and National Climatic Data Center. The last one was June 24, when a person was killed in a home in Highlands County, Fla. That was 220 days ago as of Tuesday.

The last day with multiple fatalities was June 4, when three people were killed in a mobile home in Scott County, Mo.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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