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The calm before the winter storm

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WGEM 2015
Winter Storm Watch Thursday night through Friday night for Clark, Scotland, Knox, Lewis, Shelby, Marion, Monroe, Pike in Missouri and Adams, Brown, Pike, Hancock, McDonough in Illinois and Lee County in Iowa.

A Wintry mix expected. Total snow accumulations of up to
 2"+ and ice accumulations of around one tenth to two
  tenths of an inch possible. Winds could gust as high as 30 mph.

Plan on slippery road conditions. The hazardous
  conditions could impact the Friday morning and evening commute.

A Winter Storm Watch is advanced notice that the potential for
severe winter weather exists in the Watch area, but it does not
mean it is a certainty. Those in the Watch area should begin
preparing in case the storm does materialize. If you have travel
planned, you may want to adjust your travel time to avoid the
storm. Also, you should use this advanced notice to make certain
your vehicle is winterized. Make preparations at home by stocking
emergency supplies, such as food, medicine, and extra heating
fuel, just in case the storm makes travel impossible. This is
especially important for those living in rural areas. 

Forecast Discussion:

Winter finally making a decent appearance bringing winter precipitation and cold temperatures.

We can give thanks to a high-pressure system bringing us those colder temperatures, however, it will bring us a little more sunshine today! Highs will range in the low 20s to low 30s, colder temperatures to the north. Clouds will be building this afternoon and evening ahead of the winter storm. Early morning lows will be in the teens and 20s.

Breaking down tomorrow's winter storm:

TIMING: The storm will have to overcome dry air at the surface during the morning hours, but snow will eventually take over. The snow will spread southwest to the northeast and that will be similar to the changing of precip types. We are looking at a start time in NE Missouri mid/late morning. Snow will begin to spread across the river late morning/early afternoon. A switch to sleet/freezing rain will begin early afternoon in NE Missouri and spread across the river late afternoon and early evening. Switching over to rain will occur late tomorrow evening into early Saturday morning.

ACCUMULATION: Forecasted totals are not set in stone. Totals will depend on how quickly or how slowly we see precipitation transition. If warm air aloft is slow to mix to the surface, we will have to bump up totals. If it is quicker, we will have to adjust them lower. Current snowfall forecasted accumulations are 1"-2" with isolated areas close to 3". The greater snow amounts are trending for areas farther to the north, where the switch over to a wintry mix will be later in the day. Ice accumulations look to be between 0.10" to 0.20". For ice, this is significant and can quickly deteriorate conditions.

IMPACTS: No matter how much snow/ice we get, we are expecting hazardous travel conditions. The second half of the morning commute may be impacted by snow with ice impacting the evening commute. Stay tuned for updates from the WGEM StormTrak Weather team.

***Difference between sleet and freezing rain. Sleet is ice pellets, which is rain that refreezes before reaching the ground. Freezing rain is liquid rain that freezes once it hits the ground coating surfaces in ice. Freezing ice out of all winter precip types can be the most hazardous.***

Chelsea Smith

Meteorologist Chelsea Smith is part of the WGEM Storm Track Weather team.

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