TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - It is important to pay attention to where winter storms are forming when determining how much snow a particular winter storm will distribute across the region.
The Wabash Valley is mainly impacted by three different kinds of winter storms.
An "Alberta Clipper" (named after Alberta, Canada where the storm forms) will start in Canada and swing through northern Illinois and Indiana. All storms are formed when warm rising air meets an area of cold air.
Usually, the Wabash Valley is too far south to receive snow when an Alberta Clipper swings through the area to the north. This means the Clipper system will mainly produce rain for the Wabash Valley.
A "Colorado Low" forms a winter storm over Colorado and will move further to the south. Imagine a storm moving from Colorado to central Indiana/Illinois. This storm will move far enough south that the Wabash Valley will be cut in half from the cold air and the warm air creating the storm.
This means the south will see rain and the north will see snow. Many times the dividing line between Rain and Snow for our area is Interstate 70. Colorado Lows often produce both rain AND snow for the Wabash Valley.
Finally, the rarest storm is a "Panhandle Hook." This storm rarely impacts the Wabash Valley. The winter storm forms in the Texas Panhandle and will make a beeline to the Great Lakes.
The storm sometimes can make a wider "hook" and go as far east as Kentucky. When this happens the storm is far enough South the Wabash Valley will receive a large amount of snow. In fact, this storm, when it rarely happens, maybe produces the MOST snow for the Wabash Valley.
Ultimately, whether the Wabash Valley will receive snow, ice, or a mix between the two can be accurately determined early if the starting point of the storm is known.