Light snow Thursday ahead of a weekend winter storm

Wintry precipitation will be possible tonight and Thursday. A significant winter storm will impact the region over the weekend followed by bitterly cold temperatures and harsh wind chills for the beginning of next week.

Although folks have been focusing mainly on a potentially significant winter storm for the weekend, let’s not lose sight of the fact that we have a couple of weather systems to deal with beforehand.

A weak cold front will cross east-central Ohio this afternoon that will keep clouds around for the better part of the day. There is not a lot of support for snow with this but I can’t rule out a light snow shower somewhere mainly tonight into Wednesday morning. Even if a few flakes develop I don’t expect to see much more than a dusting.

Temperatures will not increase much more than five degrees or so during the day topping out at around 28° this afternoon. Although it won’t be windy, there will be enough of a breeze to make it feel colder.

Any light snow/flurries should exit Wednesday morning giving us a short break for the afternoon and evening. A second front will approach and cross the region Thursday afternoon through Friday morning. This one will be a bit stronger and contains enough moisture for a better chance of snow showers. Generally, we can expect about an inch locally out of this quick-hitting system.

HEADS UP: A bit of warm air working in Thursday evening/night might allow for rain/drizzle to mix in briefly. With road surfaces firmly below freezing, some icing will be possible especially on elevated surfaces.

The system pulls away leaving us with a dry and uneventful day Friday. Temperatures will be about what one would expect for mid-January.

IMPORTANT: Things have not changed much since yesterday. If you are not a regular visitor to my local weather reports, consider reviewing yesterday’s weather update.

Here is what we know now…

  1. Confidence is steadily INCREASING for a significant winter storm over the weekend
  2. Impactful snow accumulation is likely Saturday afternoon and night – enough to shovel and plow
  3. Bitter cold arctic air will arrive on Sunday
  4. Strong gusty wind is expected Sunday and Monday – blowing and drifting snow
  5. Well below zero wind chill values Sunday, Sunday night, Monday and Tuesday

IT’S TIME TO MAKE A PLAN: While it is still not possible to get specific with snow totals yet, it is becoming more likely that several inches of snow will accompany the weekend storm. But snow is only going to be one factor that will impact your weekend – rain, blowing snow, and bitterly cold temperatures and arctic-like wind chills will also be a part of this storm.

Generally speaking, snow production with winter storms is almost always heaviest on the northwest side of the low. The models will certainly vary with the placement of the low over the coming days but the position of the low will be key with respect to high snow accumulation.

Regardless of the amount of snowfall, the storm is going to bring winter impacts our area for more than just one day. High wind and much colder temperatures will linger Sunday and Monday.

What is not known at this point…

  1. The exact track of the storm
  2. Where the exact areas of heaviest snow will occur
  3. Snow amounts for a specific location
  4. How much rain/mixed precipitation will occur
  5. How much bread, milk and water Buehler’s and Giant Eagle should stock

I’ll continue to keep you updated through the rest of the week as the latest information becomes available. This may turn out to be the most significant winter storm we’ve seen here in several years. It is important to keep up with reliable weather information over the next few days as this storm continues to unfold.



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