A weather forecaster warned Thursday that snow might stress the thousands of people on their way to their Thanksgivings in the Midwest next week, including southern Wisconsin.
Other forecasters were more cautious about next week’s weather.
“No hazardous weather is expected at this time,” was the outlook for southern Wisconsin posted Thursday by the National Weather Service.
But that could change, said National Weather Service meteorologist Tim Halbach.
Halbach and other government forecasters have talked about the dire scenario AccuWeather has suggested. In fact, models they ran Wednesday showed a higher likelihood of snow Tuesday and Wednesday. But since then, the models have backed away from that idea.
Halbach said he and his colleagues won’t announce anything until it is closer to the event.
That’s because forecasts get more accurate the closer to the time of the event.
Halbach said that as of Thursday afternoon, most models were showing the snow going through northern Wisconsin.
Still, AccuWeather decided to issue a warning Thursday of “potential for heavy snow and winter-like travel conditions with substantial delays to spread from eastern Colorado and northeastern New Mexico to parts of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan as Thanksgiving travel surges.”
Gary Cannalte, chief meteorologist for WISC-TV in Madison, said his staff considers next Tuesday and Wednesday “alert days,” meaning people should monitor the situation to see if trouble develops.
Cannalte said the thinking Thursday was for some kind of snow accumulation in the area Tuesday and Wednesday. But, “It’s still pretty iffy.”
Cannalte didn’t want to put any numbers to the snowfall potential, but numbers escaped his lips when he was discussing the worst case scenario: 4 to 6 inches.
But much could happen between now and next week, Cannalte cautioned.
Tom Purdy, a Janesville storm chaser and self-taught weather watcher, said winter weather forecasting is fraught (He actually said a pain in the, um, keister.).
“If you really wanted to scare people and went fishing for Facebook ‘likes,’ you could make it sound horrible,” Purdy said.
Purdy agreed it’s too soon to say, but his forecast, as of Thursday afternoon, came down to this: “It looks like we’re going to luck out, as of right now.”
Purdy’s reading of the forecasting models was that the worst of the weather would stay to the south of Chicago.
“But like with any other kind of storm system, a minor shift to the north, and it changes the whole game,” he said.
Forecasters also are watching for another possible storm system that could hit our neck of the woods Thanksgiving Day and into the following Friday and Saturday. But, of course, it’s way too early to get serious about that.