High Flyers Lead the Way

Strong northwesterly winds aloft from the North Pacific combined with Arctic air masses near the surface are sweeping over much of the United States east of the Rockies. Weak storm systems riding the flow are heralded first by high flying cirrus clouds. "Warmer" air drawn over the cold arctic air mass is lifted and creating middle and low cloudiness.

 Map plotted by Digital Atmosphere; Software available at www.weathergraphics. com

Map plotted by Digital Atmosphere; Software available at www.weathergraphics. com

At the surface low pressure is tracking east and southeast across the Upper Midwest. Ahead of the system light snow is falling. Behind the system the next surge of reinforcing cold air flies southeast behind another Arctic cold front. 

  Map plotted by Digital Atmosphere; Software available at www.weathergraphics. com

Map plotted by Digital Atmosphere; Software available at www.weathergraphics. com

The high flying cirrus are the first sign of the next snowfall. 

 Photo by Craig Johnson

Photo by Craig Johnson

As air drawn into the storm system is lifted over the colder air moisture condenses and snow begins to fall from nimbostratus. 

 Photo by Craig Johnson

Photo by Craig Johnson

This pattern is gradually laying down snow cover across the Midwest. The snow cover is enhancing the cold air by reflecting sunlight back to space during the day and on clear nights, radiating heat to space. It all adds up to a cold pattern for the foreseeable future. 

 Snow cover map courtesy of NOAA, 12-27-2017

Snow cover map courtesy of NOAA, 12-27-2017