John Malan's Weather Blog

Why biggest snowfalls come from south, not north

CREATED Feb 26, 2013

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MILWAUKEE - Snow is on the way again for the Milwaukee area due to a southern storm system tracking in from the panhandle of Texas.

The heaviest snow from this system will stay to the south of Wisconsin with Winter Storm Watches out for northeastern Illinois.

The snow should start in the Milwaukee area by late in the afternoon.

I received an e-mail from a television viewer asking why the storm system that is coming from the south doesn’t have more snow for us as a “Panhandle Hook” generally has the biggest snowfalls.

Low pressure systems in winter come from the northwest, west and southwest, and the storm systems that come from the southwest generally have the most snow because they connect with a moisture source called the Gulf of Mexico.

Alberta Clippers are moisture starved and with colder air snowfalls are much less than the southern storm systems.

Colorado low pressure systems from basically the western direction can bring moderate snowfalls, but the biggest storms are always from the south to southwest.

The track of today’s southern storm system is the greatest factor in determining how much snow will fall in Milwaukee, along with upper air support and speed of the storm system.

This low pressure system is too far south and is moving too quickly through the Ohio valley.