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Winter storm watch in effect for Friday-Saturday; several inches of snow possible


Winter storm watch in effect for Friday-Saturday; several inches of snow possible
By Bob Steenson,

For people hoping for a white Christmas, there’s good news and bad news.

The good news is that the Charles City area could receive several inches of snow in a winter storm forecast for Friday and early Saturday.

The bad news for white Christmas lovers is that the temperatures could be back into the 50s and 60s next week, melting away any snow on the ground.

The National Weather Service began issuing a winter storm watch on Wednesday for a large part of northern Iowa and southern Minnesota including Floyd County, predicting anywhere from 4 to 12 inches of snow could fall in various areas.

Winter storm watch in effect for Friday-Saturday; several inches of snow possible
A white Christmas is officially one where there is at least 1 inch of snow on the ground on Dec. 25.

On Thursday the National Weather Service office in La Crosse, Wisconsin, which covers the Floyd and Chickasaw county area, updated the forecast, saying a winter storm will move across the region from noon Friday into early Saturday morning with a band of heavy snow likely impacting portions of the Upper Mississippi Valley. Some parts of Minnesota could see up to 15 inches.

Total snow accumulation in the area that includes Charles City is projected to be 1 to 6 inches, NWS said, with mixed precipitation expected. A light glaze of ice could accompany any snow.

Wind gusts as high as 35 mph could create blowing and drifting snow, and occasional white-out areas.

“Plan on slippery road conditions. Travel could be very difficult,” the report said. “Patchy blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility. The hazardous conditions could impact the evening commute.”

The Charles City area is also part of what the Weather Service called the area of greatest snow uncertainty.

It said the storm could still shift paths, determining whether areas receive snow, icing or rain. Mainly rain is expected across far southwest Wisconsin and adjacent parts of Iowa.

“For now, plan ahead for impacts to travel. Be prepared to delay, alter or even cancel plans if conditions warrant it,” the advisory said.

Weather records kept by the National Weather Service and the Charles City Press show that the last White Christmas in Charles City was in 2016 when there was 7 inches of snow on the ground on Dec. 25. It is officially considered a white Christmas when there is at least an inch of snow on the ground.

Since the year 2000 there has been less than a 50% chance of having a white Christmas, with snow on the ground only 10 of those 21 years.

In the 52 years from 1948 to 1999 there were 42 years with a white Christmas, or a white Christmas slightly more than 80% of the time. The longest stretch in that period was 1983 to 1994 when each of those 12 years had a White Christmas.

The longest stretch without a white Christmas has been the previous four years, from 2017 to 2020.

The 10 white Christmases in Charles City since the year 2000 include the year 2000 when there was 14 inches of snow on the ground already by Dec. 25, and 2010, when there was 17 inches — the deepest snow recorded on the ground on Christmas since 1948.

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