Peoria, Ill. (WMBD) — Your Local Weather Authority is tracking a severe blast of arctic air that is expected to arrive in Central Illinois by the middle of next week and remain in place through Christmas weekend. The cold air could also bring periods of snow to the area impacting holiday travel across much of the U.S.

Key Takeaways

  • Colder temperatures filter in throughout the week
  • Coldest temperatures expected Thursday through Sunday
  • Life threatening wind chills possible
  • Multiple shots of snow, more impactful system possible Wednesday-Thursday

An area of high pressure currently in the Pacific is expected to build north into the Arctic Circle. This will cause arctic air to be dislodged and sent south into lower latitudes, arriving in Central Illinois by the middle to end of next week. The arctic air mass will send high temperatures in the teens and single digits with lows below zero, especially from Thursday through Sunday. Wind chill values could drop below -20° depending the strength of our winds.

These temperatures could end up even colder than anticipated if have a decent snowpack when the arctic air arrives. There are two opportunities for accumulating snow in Central Illinois next week which could make these colder temperatures a reality.

The first front will bring a chance for scattered snow showers late Monday afternoon and Monday night. As of now, snow accumulations with this system are likely to remain light but a second system moving in Wednesday and Thursday could prove to be more significant.

Winter’s Fury or Just a Flurry?

There are a lot of questions surrounding this late week storm system. Models differ on the strength and track of the storm and will have huge impact on what transpires across Central Illinois.

Winter’s Fury – Northern Storm Track

This track will bring an area of low pressure from the eastern plains to the Ohio River Valley. This scenario results in a much stronger storm for Central Illinois with heavier snow and stronger winds. If the storm were to take this track it would have much greater impacts to holiday travel across the Illinois, the Midwest and the Great Lakes.

Just a Flurry – Southern Storm Track

If the storm were to take a more southern route it would track across the southeast and intensify over the east coast. We’d still see snow along the arctic front, but the impacts would generally be relatively minor and be more in-line with a typical snowfall for Central Illinois.

The most likely scenario is one that actually falls between the two extremes. One thing of concern that has developed on Friday is that the models suggesting a more southern track have started trending further north. Should this trend continue a more significant storm could become a reality for Central Illinois.

Avoid the Hype and Stay Informed

The idea of major winter storm before Christmas tends to generate a lot of excitement on social media. Don’t trust maps displaying modelled snowfall projections as that in way reflect the actual outcome. We are still 5-7 days out from this possible event and there’s a lot that will change before it arrives. At this point we are monitoring trends and should know whether this storm will have a more serious impact on us by Sunday or Monday with snowfall forecasts coming out by Tuesday.