A strong winter storm will impact northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin Friday and Saturday, bringing with it accumulating sleet, freezing rain and snow. Heavy rain is expected to fall further to the south and southeast.
Temperatures Friday evening and night will be very close to freezing – 32 degrees – increasing the threat for accumulating freezing rain and sleet. Ice accumulations of a tenth of an inch, for both sleet and freezing rain, are possible during the overnight Friday, making roads slick through Saturday morning. It’s possible that a few locations could end up with a quarter of an inch of ice by Saturday morning, possibly higher.
With the threat of ice there is always the concern for power outages and downed trees. While power outages are possible, the threat for widespread outages or damage will be low. Ice accumulations of a tenth of an inch to a quarter of an inch generally coat windshields, parking lots and untreated/elevated surfaces, along with provide a thin coating of ice on trees. If the wind is strong enough it can cause the tree limbs to break, and perhaps down some power lines.
If you do find yourself without power this weekend here are a few tips to help keep you safe. Remember to never run a generator inside your home, making sure it is kept outside and 20ft away from any windows. Never use a gas stovetop or oven to heat your home. Keep your freezer and refrigerator doors closed. A closed refrigerator keeps cold for about four hours and a full freezer will keep its temperature for roughly 48 hours. When in doubt, throw it out! Throw out food that has been exposed to temperatures 40 degrees or higher or have a weird odor or color to them. Throw out any refrigerated medication after a day, unless it says otherwise on the label.
Temperatures are expected to cool further Saturday afternoon turning the wintry mix to all snow by Saturday evening. Heavy snow will be possible through the evening Saturday making travel very dangerous. Snowfall totals over six inches are possible, especially for areas across far northern and northwest Illinois and southern Wisconsin. Areas that receive more sleet and freezing rain likely won’t see as much snow. The snow will initially be a more wet snow, having a bit more weight to it. This will easily coat trees and power lines. There won’t be much drifting snow initially, but blowing snow will be a concern dropping visibility through Saturday evening. As the snow continues to fall it will become a little more light and could be easily blown around Saturday night.