NOTE- Article updated at 4:50 pm on Wednesday, December, 13th to reflect the latest rainfall forecast.
Peoria, Ill. (WMBD) — A storm system currently working it’s way across the Rocky Mountains is expected to bring a wide range of impacts to the U.S. as it sweeps across the country. From heavy snow and gusty winds across the northern plains to severe storms across the south, the storm will prove to be an impactful one though Central Illinois will certainly fare better than others.
Central Illinois Impacts
Rain is expected to spread across Central Illinois Tuesday afternoon and continue through much of Tuesday night. For areas west of the Illinois River, the heaviest and steadiest rain will likely end by 2 am Wednesday. While a few rumbles of thunder are possible, severe storms are not expected due to limited instability, but periods of heavy rain should be expected. After a brief break Wednesday morning, rain will ramp back up Wednesday afternoon and continue through Wednesday evening.
The rainfall forecast has been increased for areas along and east of the Illinois River where 1-1.5″ of rain are expected through Wednesday evening. West of the Illinois River, amounts will generally be around or just under an inch. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor continues to depict abnormally dry and moderate drought conditions across much of Central Illinois. While this storm wont completely erase the ongoing drought, it could improve conditions for much of the area, even if it’s just a little bit.
Winds will become gusty during the day as they blow from the east-southeast at 10-20 mph with gusts between 30 and 40 mph possible.
Northern Plains Snow and Wind
When it comes to powerful winter storms for the Northern Plains, this is a classic setup. Blizzard conditions are expected across parts of Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska and South Dakota where heavy snow will combine with winds gusting up to 45 mph to make travel difficult, if not impossible.
Road closures will be likely along I-80, I-90 and and I-94 Tuesday as heavy snow falls from the eastern plains of Colorado to the U.S./Canada border while freezing rain and sleet impact parts of the Upper Midwest. Snowfall accumulations could reach up to two feet in parts of Nebraska and South Dakota by Wednesday evening.
Severe Storms for the South
On the warm side of the storm system, severe storms are expected to develop across the Central Plains and the south. Starting tonight, storms capable of tornadoes, damaging winds and large hail will be possible from Texas to southern Nebraska. The risk shifts east to the lower Mississippi River Valley on Tuesday.
Turning Much Colder Ahead of Christmas
The start of December has been off to a warm start with most of Illinois seeing an average temperature departure of 1-3° through the first 11 days of December. However, the second half of the month is expected to be much colder as arctic air drops into the contiguous United States, and this storm system will be bringing it in.
After seeing highs in the mid-50s on Wednesday, temperatures will remain in the 30s for the remainder of the work week with 20s expected by the weekend. Long range model guidance continues to suggest additional arctic fronts pushing through Central Illinois next week, likely sending temperatures in to the lower 20s and teens. The pattern could also lead to multiple opportunities for snowfall, though exactly when that snow could come remains unclear. You can check out this article about our historical probabilities of a white Christmas in Central Illinois.