Image
Winter Storm Bella not only brought the first, not to mention locally heavy, accumulating snow of the season for some in the Great Lakes and Midwest, but also was one of the heaviest November snowstorms of record for some.

Scroll down to the "snowtables" section for a list of records set during this storm.

Parts of the Sioux City, South Dakota metro area picked up over a foot of snow in an intense snowband Friday. Snow has since ended, there, but has now spread into the Great Lakes, with some totals over 10 inches already coming in from parts of Wisconsin and northern Illinois.

Winter storm warnings continue from parts of northern Illinois, southern Wisconsin, northern Indiana and southern Lower Michigan, including the Quad Cities, Rockford, Milwaukee, Chicago, South Bend and the north and west Detroit suburbs. In the much of the Upper Midwest, this means a likelihood for at least 6 inches of snow in 12 hours, or 8 inches of snow in 24 hours.

Winter weather advisories are posted for other parts of Illinois, Indiana, northwest Ohio and Lower Michigan, where somewhat lower snowfall totals are expected. Despite lacking strong surface low pressure, these systems are notorious heavy snow generators in the Midwest.
Image

Snowfall Reports - A sampling of snowfall totals since Thursday.
Snowfall Totals So Far

As of Saturday midday, numerous locations from southeastern South Dakota to southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois have reported a foot or more of snow from the storm.

Here is a sampling of official snowfall totals around the area, by state:
  • South Dakota: Tea (18 inches), Sioux Falls Regional Airport (7.2 inches)
  • Iowa: George (17 inches), Waterloo (12.7 inches), Dubuque (10.2 inches), Des Moines (6.9 inches)
  • Nebraska: Near Bloomfield (16 inches), South Sioux City (6.5 inches), Valentine (4 inches)
  • Minnesota: Worthington (8 inches)
  • Illinois: Grayslake (16 inches), Chicago O'Hare (11.1 inches), Moline (9.9 inches), Rockford (8.6 inches),
  • Wisconsin: Near Footville (17 inches), Janesville (11.5 inches), Milwaukee (6.7 inches), Madison (4.1 inches)
  • Michigan: Rives Junction (8 inches), Kalamazoo (5.3 inches), Flint (3.2 inches), Detroit Metro Airport (1 inch)
  • Indiana: Crown Point (5 inches), Lafayette (3.5 inches), near South Bend (3 inches), Tipton (2 inches)
Bella also produced the season's first flakes as far south as northwest Arkansas Saturday morning, and left a dusting of snow in Springfield, Missouri, as well.

Winter Storm Bella Snow Forecast
Image

Additional snowfall forecast to fall on top of what is already on the ground.
The relative lack of moisture and quick-moving nature of Winter Storm Bella should mitigate this from becoming a crippling storm for many.

However, a swath of moderate to heavy snow is still expected Saturday from southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois to Michigan. Where smaller-scale, more intense snowbands temporarily set up, snowfall rates from 1-2 inches per hour are possible, for a time.

Saturday's heaviest additional snow will be from the northwest Indiana suburbs of Chicago to the "thumb" of Lower Michigan, with 6 inches or a bit more of snow possible in that swath, including South Bend, Indiana, Lansing, Flint, and the northern suburbs of Detroit.

Surface low pressure is expected to strengthen a bit once it reaches the Great Lakes. The pressure gradient between this developing low and high pressure building in the Rockies and High Plains will produce increasing winds in the snow area Saturday, leading to some reduced visibilities in blowing snow, and some minor drifting, but we are not anticipating blizzard conditions with Winter Storm Bella.

However, downed tree limbs and power outages are possible in areas of the heaviest Bella accumulations as winds add stress to trees and power lines.

Once the surface low wraps up in eastern Canada, some bands of lake-effect snow are possible off Lakes Ontario and Erie, and a little wrap-around snow may blanket the Allegheny Plateau, Appalachians, Adirondacks and high country of northern New England.

Given this first snow of the season in some of these areas may be locally heavy, slow down, leave extra time if you must travel, or consider postponing your trip. Flight delays and cancellations have already been reported at Chicago-O'Hare Airport, and are possible out of smaller regional airports, as well. Check your flight status before leaving for the airport.
Image

Saturday's Forecast - Blue areas indicate areas of forecast snow, pink indicates either rain or snow, and green indicates rain.
Winter Storm Bella Snow Timing

Snow continues in northern Illinois and southern to eastern Wisconsin, spreading and intensifying in much of Lower Michigan and northern Indiana. Some blowing and minor drifting snow is possible across portions of Iowa. Any rain may change to snow in northern Ohio, northwestern Pennsylvania and western New York Saturday night.

Increasing winds Saturday night may produce areas of reduced visibility in Michigan, and all the Great Lake snowbelts with the exception of the Lake Ontario snowbelt.

Season's first accumulating snow cities:
  • Saturday: Chicago, Grand Rapids, South Bend, Detroit
  • Saturday night: Erie, Pennsylvania
This fresh snowcover, clearing skies and lighter winds sets the stage for a cold Sunday morning in the Bella snow area.
Image

Sunday's Forecast - Blue areas indicate areas of forecast snow, pink indicates either rain or snow, and green indicates rain.
Lake-effect snow will linger in the Great Lakes snowbelts, south of Buffalo, New York, and north of Syracuse toward Oswego, New York, and the Tug Hill Plateau. A few snow showers are possible across northern New England, although moisture appears to be relatively limited. Gusty winds may persist around the eastern Great Lakes and New England. A few flakes may even fly across the central Appalachians from West Virginia into interior Pennsylvania, though little to no accumulation is anticipated.
Image
November Heavy Snow: It's Been Awhile For Some

Despite the Upper Midwest's snowy reputation, heavy snow in November outside the Great Lakes snowbelts isn't as common as you might think.

Here are some November "snowtables" so far:
  • Moline, Illinois: Record November snowstorm (9.9 inches total). A Nov. 29 - Dec. 1, 1974 snowstorm produced 10.7 inches of snow, but only 9.8 inches of that was in those final two November days.
  • Rockford, Illinois: Second heaviest November snowstorm (8.6 inches); existing record is 9.5 inches from Nov. 6-7, 1951.
  • Dubuque, Iowa: Second heaviest November snowstorm (11.7 inches); existing record is 13.4 inches from Nov. 17-20, 1986.
  • Waterloo, Iowa: Snowiest November calendar day on record (10.5 inches Friday) topping the old record of 8.5 inches from Nov. 13, 1972. (records since 1895)
  • Mason City, Iowa: Tied their snowiest November calendar day on record (8 inches Friday); 8 inches of snow also was measured, there, on Nov. 18, 1957.
  • Des Moines, Iowa: Already the snowiest November since 1992 (6.9 inches total snow).
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Second heaviest snowstorm so early in the season. Only the Nov. 5-6, 1896 was heavier so early (14.6 inches).
  • Chicago: Second heaviest November snowstorm (11.1 inches at O'Hare Airport as of 2 p.m. CST); Record is 12 inches from Nov. 25-26, 1895.
  • Sioux Falls, South Dakota: Snowiest November day (7.2 inches Friday) since Nov. 26, 2001.
Chicago's O'Hare Airport had its first November with 6 inches or more of snow since 1978. Average November snow in the Windy City is only 1.4 inches, just under 4 percent of their average seasonal snow. Their average date of the season's first 1 inch-plus snow is December 7. Last season, it took the Windy City until January 5 to accumulate a season total of 6 inches. In fact, their first 6-inch-plus snow event of last season was Winter Storm Linus just before Groundhog Day.

Similarly, Milwaukee had its first 6-inch-plus November snow total in 20 years. In terms of snowfall so early in the season, Milwaukee only recorded four 2-day snowfall totals of greater than 6 inches before Nov. 22, dating back to the late 1800s, prior to Winter Storm Bella. Five of the past nine Novembers in the Brew City haven't even produced one-half inch of snow, total.

Across the lake, however, Grand Rapids, Michigan, has had a break so far this November, lacking measurable snow prior to this weekend system. November 2014 was their record snowiest November, with 31 inches of snow during the month.

Also of interest is the tendency for less snowy seasons during strong El Niños, which we are currently in.

In five previous strong El Niño seasons (1997-98, 1982-83, 1972-73, 1965-66, 1957-58), Chicago has picked up an average of only 23 inches of seasonal snow, which is 15.4 inches below the 1950-2015 average of 38.4 inches.