Forecasters say the snow expected across the Rockies and northern Plains Wednesday into Thursday will be no April Fools’ joke from Mother Nature, as treacherous travel will be possible on the roadways.
The wintry scenes will come as a storm system ushers in unseasonably cold air across the northwestern tier of the country.
Winter storm warnings were dispersed across stretches of Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas Wednesday morning, with winter weather advisories covering a much larger area from Idaho to southwestern Minnesota.
Those social distancing by taking a walk outside in these locales will need to bundle up amid highs in the 20s to near 30 during the middle and later part of the week, when highs closer to 50 are more common.
“A potent springtime cold front is expected to bring a shot of snow to parts of the northern Rockies into the northern Plains despite recent warmth,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Isaac Longley said.
“With temperatures falling rapidly during the passage of the cold front, snow will begin to accumulate in many places from Wyoming and northern Colorado into North Dakota and the Canadian Prairies,” he added.
One wave of snow is forecast to sweep through eastern Montana and into northern North Dakota, Saskatchewan and Manitoba during Wednesday.
A second wave of snow will then blossom farther south over Wyoming on Wednesday night and swing northeastward through the northern Plains into Thursday night.
AccuWeather meteorologists expect a widespread plowable snowfall across the region, with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 14 inches (36 cm) where the heaviest snow falls. At this juncture, the AccuWeather Local StormMax™ is most likely to be achieved in portions of Wyoming, South Dakota, eastern Saskatchewan and western Manitoba.
While snow may initially melt on pavement due to prior mild conditions, icy conditions can quickly develop as temperatures plummet and the snow continues to come down.
“In addition to brief periods of heavy snowfall, strong, gusty winds will accompany the snow, producing white-out conditions at times which may make travel difficult,” Longley said. Such conditions could threaten motorists on stretches of interstates 25 and 90.
On the southeastern edge of the swath of snow, an icy mix can occur from portions of central Nebraska through eastern South Dakota and into western Minnesota.
Conditions are likely to remain unseasonably cold in the wake of the front on Friday across the northern Plains, but forecasters say any fresh snowfall may start to melt away over the weekend as milder air moves in.