As that famous meteorological saying goes “red sky in the morning, sailors take warning”. The gorgeous and color-filled sunrise we encountered this morning is a sign for things to come. This dry start will lead to snow chances later on today, likely slowing down travel for some. It will take a little bit for roads to become slick due to slightly warmer temperatures today. As road conditions deteriorate overnight, Thursday morning’s commute will definitely feature hazardous conditions.
Let’s break down the forecast. Most of our day today is going to feature dry conditions. Why? The column of air above us in the atmosphere still has a good amount of dry air leftover by the same high pressure system that brought wall to wall sunshine the past two days. As moisture streams in, the leftover dry air will slowly erode away, allowing for saturation. Once the column of air is fully saturated from top to bottom, that’s when we will see our first flakes. That won’t be until after 6 PM this evening, specifically for the Rockford area. Otherwise, the warmest day of the work week is ahead, and that’s saying something. Most of us will manage to make it into the mid to upper 30s this afternoon. Temperatures well above freezing could make for a rain and snow mix before we see it switchover to all snow.
Our storm system is currently roaming over portions of the Midwest, already bringing light to moderate snow to areas like Kansas City, the St. Louis metro, and Wichita, KS. Precipitation for us will begin to develop from south to north, with our first sight of snowflakes falling in our most southern regions by 3-4 PM. For areas along highway 20, snow will begin to start falling around 5-6 PM. This will lead to the potential for slick road conditions for the evening commute. Road conditions aren’t likely to become very slick at first, all because temperatures this afternoon are going to be too warm.
Most, if not all of our accumulations from this event will occur overnight. Light to moderate snow bands will continue to fill in as the system tracks through southern Illinois and into the Tennessee Valley. The combination of an incoming arctic cold front and this low pressure system will continue to help pump moisture into the area, and increase our winds overnight. Due to the very frigidly cold air behind this arctic front, we will most likely hit our high temperature for tomorrow once the clock strikes midnight tonight. Temperatures are going to quickly drop into the teens by sunrise, which will allow snow to accumulate on the roadways.
By sunrise Thursday morning, the heaviest of the snow will be pushing out of the Stateline area. This will only leave a few lingering snow showers, but those gusty northwesterly winds will bring the threat for wind-whipped snow. This is also something that could slow things down for your early drive tomorrow. It will be very important to wake up a little bit earlier tomorrow to give yourself extra time for your morning routine. Remember to give yourself enough following distance between your car and other vehicles and plows. A couple of flurries could linger into the early afternoon hours, but this is the time when the main focus of the forecast switches to the bitterly cold. Wind chills by the time we are preparing for our day will most likely be below zero. It won’t be until Thursday night and Friday morning that we will feel the bulk of this arctic air mass.
As far as snowfall totals, I believe that most spots across the Stateline will be in the 1″-3″ range when this event is all said and done. There may be a few isolated spots that could record upwards of 4″. Areas that are located south of I-88 and east of I-39 will have a higher potential for snow totals over 3 inches. If you are located to the northwest, such as Galena and Monroe, expect lesser snowfall totals.