Winter storm warning: latest ice and snow forecast

PEORIA Ill. (WMBD) — The National Weather Service issued winter storm warnings for much of central Illinois from Wednesday night through Thursday night.

A severe winter storm will bring heavy rain, freezing rain, heavy snow and high winds to the region. In this update, snowfall amounts have been increased and the axis of greatest snow accumulation has shifted slightly to the southeast.

Key points to remember

  • Periods of heavy rain likely Wednesday evening
  • Change from rain to freezing rain/drizzle 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. Thursday
  • Change from freezing rain to snow 6 a.m. to noon Thursday
  • Winds of 15 to 25 mph Thursday afternoon
  • Dangerous Journey Thursday
  • Probable, potentially widespread power outages
  • Forecast Confidence
    • Timing: (high)
    • Ice quantities: (high)
    • Snow amounts: (moderate)

It is important to note that while many will have very little snow for the morning trip, very heavy snow and strong winds will make travel dangerous or even impossible after noon. If you plan to go to school or work on Thursday morning, know that it will be very difficult to get home that afternoon and evening.

The storm will begin with scattered rain showers developing Wednesday afternoon as a cold front approaches the region from the northwest. Moderate to heavy rain, accompanied by a few rumbles of thunder, will develop Wednesday evening and continue overnight as the cold front gradually descends south through central Illinois. A gradual transition to freezing rain is expected between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. Thursday for areas along and north of a Macomb line in Bloomington. After 6 a.m., freezing rain will change to heavy, wet snow at 9 a.m. in Peoria and noon in Bloomington.

Between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., snowfall rates could reach 1 to 2 inches per hour, with perhaps some thunderstorm snow, causing road conditions to deteriorate rapidly. In the late afternoon, a dry split could lead to the end of snow for a brief period along I-55 before a final flurry of snow moves in and turns into showers between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. h.

In addition to heavy snowfall, winds will increase to 15-25 mph Thursday afternoon with some gusts up to 40 mph possible. The combination of strong winds and heavy snow will result in whiteout conditions and difficult, if not impossible, travel conditions. The combination of ice buildup, heavy wet snow and strong winds will put pressure on trees and power lines, increasing the risk of power outages.

Precipitation forecast

Snowfall forecast as of 9 a.m. Thursday

The storm’s predicted track continues to drop southward and it seems increasingly likely that the highest snowfall rates (1-2 inches per hour) will remain east of the Illinois River. Snow accumulations of 4 to 8 inches will be common between the Illinois River and I-55 with localized accumulations of up to 10 inches in McLean, Tazewell and Logan counties. Further west, snowfall will be lighter with 3 to 7 inches in Peoria, Canton and Macomb with as little as 1 to 2 inches in Kewanee.

Regardless of accumulations, strong winds and higher snowfall rates will cause road conditions to deteriorate rapidly throughout the region.

Precipitation forecast from 4 p.m. Wednesday

Ultimately, total storm precipitation amounts (rain and ice/sleet) are expected to range from 1 to 2 inches across much of central Illinois, with heaviest amounts along and east from I-55. The heavy rainfall will likely result in major road ponds in the area and localized flooding. Rivers are likely to rise as well with a possibility of ice jam flooding.

Additional adjustments may be required throughout the afternoon and early Thursday morning, so keep following reliable sources for weather forecasts and download the CiProud2Go weather app for the latest information.

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