Prolonged Snow Threat Ahead for Rockies, Plains, Midwest and Great Lakes Into the Weekend

Chris Dolce
Published: February 7, 2018

Yet more snow is expected for a broad area across the nation's northern tier late this week and into the weekend, resulting in hazardous travel conditions from the Rockies to the Midwest and Northeast.

Impulses of energy rippling through the jet stream will lead to accumulating snow from the northern Rockies to the Plains, Midwest and Great Lakes late this week.

The snowfall through this weekend will be caused by two separate weather systems:

  • System 1: Impulses of energy riding through a broad southward dip in the jet stream will deliver snow from Montana to Maine into Friday night.
  • System 2: A separate batch of upper-level energy will then dive into the northern Rockies by Friday and push through the central and eastern states this weekend, spreading more wintry weather from the Rockies to the Plains, Midwest and interior Northeast.

 (MORE: Winter Storm Central)

Winter storm warnings have been issued by the National Weather Service in advance of the first weather system mentioned above. These warnings include much of Montana and parts of the western Dakotas. This area can expect dangerous driving conditions, including heavy snow.

Winter weather advisories are also in effect from the Dakotas to southern Wisconsin and northern Iowa. Slippery road conditions can be expected in this region with occasionally reduced visibilities and moderate to heavy snow. 

Winter storm watches are in effect for the southern Great Lakes region. Included are Chicago, Milwaukee, South Bend, Indiana, and Detroit. Heavy snow and significant reductions in visibility are possible in this area. 

Winter Weather Alerts

Here's a deeper look at what to expect.

Weather System #1


  • Thursday, the snow could be moderate to heavy at times in Montana. Light to locally moderate snow will streak eastward in a narrow zone from South Dakota to northern Iowa and southern Minnesota.
  • Thursday night, snow will impact parts of many states from Montana and northern Idaho into the Great Lakes, including Chicago, Milwaukee and Detroit.

Thursday Night's Forecast

Friday's Forecast

  • Snow will continue to spread east in a narrow area from Iowa, northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin into Lower Michigan, northern Indiana, northern Ohio and parts of the interior Northeast. Depending on exactly where this narrow band of snow sets up, the morning commute could be impacted in Chicago, Detroit and Buffalo.
  • Overnight Friday, the snow will continue to spread into upstate New York and New England before winding down by Saturday morning.

Friday's Forecast

Snowfall Forecast

  • The heaviest amounts through Friday are forecast in the northern Rockies and High Plains, where some locations could see a foot or more of snow.
  • In the Plains, Midwest and Great Lakes, a narrow zone could see heavier snowfall accumulations on either side of 6 inches, potentially including Chicago, Detroit, Des Moines, Iowa, and Rapid City, South Dakota.
  • Details on where this band of heavier snow will set up are uncertain, but travel will be hazardous across a broad area.

Snowfall Forecast Through Friday

Weather System #2

Friday-This Weekend

  • Friday into Friday night, the second batch of upper-level energy will bring snow to the northern and central Rockies and the central Plains.
  • Saturday, at least light snowfall will extend from Colorado, including Denver, eastward across parts of the central Plains, mid-Mississippi Valley and Great Lakes. A band of freezing rain and sleet is also possible in parts of the central Plains and Midwest.
  • Sunday, snow, sleet or freezing rain could affect a swath from the mid-Mississippi Valley into the interior Northeast, lingering in parts of upstate New York and New England Sunday night.

Saturday's Forecast

Sunday's Forecast

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

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