Submitted by VWC EMA

A significant winter storm is taking aim for the area and is projected to cripple much of the eastern half of the United States, according Van Wert County Emergency Management Director Rick McCoy.

"Computer models are coming into agreement that the storm which has now been named the "Ground Hog Day Storm" will affect millions of people from Texas to New York and range from severe storms including tornadoes in the southern states to an ice storm and blizzard across the central plains to the Ohio Valley and northeast," stated McCoy. "We are seeing some similarities to the storm of January 1 and 2 of 1999 when Van Wert saw six inches of snow followed by an inch of ice," he said.

Since Friday, forecasters have been trying to predict the exact path, knowing that the storm would be inevitable. Trying to pinpoint the types of precipitation of certain areas has been difficult.

As the storm has continued to evolve, more indications are pointing to blizzard-like conditions with one to two feet of snow projected across northwest Indiana and northern Illinois. "In Van Wert County, it is looking like an ice event, which is certainly not what we want," said the EMA Director.

As of Sunday morning, it appears that a disturbance will move through Monday night dropping as much as three inches of snow across the area. Then on Tuesday, the storm will approach, beginning as snow across the area, possibly dumping an additional three inches in the evening. Then after midnight, a shallow, warm layer of air will move over the top of the cold air, and freezing rain will begin and continue all night.

"The saving grace is that sleet could mix in with the freezing rain bringing ice accumulation totals down," McCoy said. "But if the sleet doesn't develop, accumulations would likely exceed a half inch of ice."

Then on Wednesday, precipitation will change back to snow with another three inches possible. Winds during the event will blow at 25 to 35 mph with higher gusts.

McCoy said that every scenario you look at with this storm is bad. "If we remain with all snow and the high winds, a blizzard would occur. But the worst case scenario seems to be looking more likely with ice accumulations and strong winds. This can spell power outages for an extended period of time. I hope people have been preparing for this storm all weekend no matter what the outcome is and will be prepared to handle a major winter storm," he said.

The National Weather Service will be making fine adjustments all day Monday as the storm approaches. The EMA office urges everyone to monitor Weather Service announcements and listen to local media for further updates. Should the storm hit as predicted, announcements would be made at the top of the hour over the WERT Radio in the event that shelters were to be opened or emergency announcements need to be relayed to the public. In the event of power outages, use a battery powered transistor radio or go to your vehicle and turn on the radio at the top of the hour for important information.

One of the culprits for the winter storms this year is the current La Niña global weather system. This weather phenomenon is the result of cooler than normal waters in the Equatorial Pacific that affects the global weather patterns. Indications are that it will continue to remain strong through February and beyond. "In La Niña years, we see an increase of moisture during the winter months, but, fortunately for Ohio, most of the big storms that have developed moved across the Tennessee Valley and up the East Coast," the EMA director said, adding that the upcoming storm, though, shows more potential, as it appears it will affect many states and will take aim at Ohio and Indiana.

"I know everyone is keeping their fingers crossed and hopes that this one misses us, but we certainly need to be ready and take this storm very seriously," McCoy said.