The National Weather Service has upgraded the Winter Storm Watch to a Winter Storm Warning. The warning will run from 9 PM tonight to 9 PM Friday.
A strong cold front is moving across the Midwest right now. As of 1:30 PM, the cold front is located over northern Illinois, central Missouri, and western Arkansas.
Rain showers will be possible ahead of the front the rest of the afternoon, but a better chance of rain will accompany the cold front, which is expected to move through the region around 9 PM.
Temperatures are forecast to drop below freezing at around midnight. Temperatures aloft will still be above freezing, thus, freezing rain will be the dominant precipitation type to begin the winter storm. Up to 1/4″ of freezing rain appears possible, isolated higher amounts may also be possible.
Temperatures aloft will get closer to freezing in the early morning hours on Friday. This will signal the transition to sleet. It could sleet for several hours, which will eat away snow totals. Right now, I wouldn’t be surprised to see up to an inch of sleet.
The sleet will eventually transition to snow in the morning hours on Friday. As of now, snow amounts should be the least of your worries. Only 1-2″ of snow is forecast.
The bottom line is that freezing rain is the main threat. Some thunder freezing rain may be possible late tonight and into early Friday morning. This will enhance freezing rain accumulations.
In addition, winds will be gusty on Friday morning. This, combined with freezing rain, could promote tree damage and cause sporadic power outages.
Road conditions will likely be terrible Friday morning so stay off them if you can. Charge electronic devices tonight in the event of power outages. Stay tuned here for the latest information. Have a great afternoon!
-Meteorologist Jacob Wilkins