Peoria, Ill. (WMBD) — Your Local Weather Authority has declared Thursday, December 22nd and Friday, December 23rd Severe Weather Alert Days for snow and blowing snow which will lead to blizzard-like conditions across Central Illinois. A Winter Storm Warning has been issued for all of Central Illinois from 6 am Thursday through 6 am Saturday.

Key Takeaways

  • Heaviest snow is expected between 9 am and 3 pm Thursday
    • Widespread accumulations of 2-5 inches
  • Sharp drop in temperatures could lead to a flash freeze Thursday afternoon
  • 40-50 MPH wind gusts possible Thursday night and Friday, strongest Friday
    • Ground blizzard conditions with widespread blowing and drifting snow
  • Strong winds could bring down tree branches resulting in power outages
  • Bitter cold and dangerous wind chills between -20° and -30° expected Thursday night through Friday night

While snowfall accumulations are expected to be relatively modest and don’t fit the criteria for a Winter Storm Warning, it is the frequent 40-50 mph wind gusts that will lead to blizzard-like conditions over the next few days making travel dangerous.

Snowfall Timing and Amounts

Snow is expected to develop between 6 am and 9 am Thursday and continue through late afternoon. The heaviest snow will fall between 9 am and 3 am with snowfall rates approaching 1″ an hour around noon. This will result in a quick 2-5 inches of accumulation across much of Central Illinois. A few snow showers are possible Friday, but the biggest issue then will be blowing snow from snow that is already on the ground creating ground blizzard conditions.

Sharp Temperature Drop

Temperatures are expected to start off in the upper 20s and lower 30s in the morning but drop into the teens and single digits by early afternoon. The sudden drop in temperatures will lead to a flash freeze that cause wet roads to ice up and allow snow to stick to the pavement quickly. This will lead to hazardous travel conditions across Central Illinois by early afternoon.

Strong Winds & Blizzard-Like Conditions

Winds will become gusty Thursday afternoon behind the cold front with frequent gusts of 20-30 mph expected through sunset. As the snow tapers off, wind speeds will become stronger and occasionally gust between 30-40 mph. This will lead to widespread blowing and drifting snow, resulting in blizzard-like conditions across the region. Winds will increase more Friday with frequent gusts of 40-50 mph with blowing and drifting snow continuing.

Frigid Temperatures & Dangerous Wind Chills

Arctic air will push into Central Illinois Thursday with the worst of the cold settling across the region on Friday and Saturday. High temperatures both days will be in the single digits with lows below zero. Wind chill values Thursday night, Friday, and Friday night are expected to drop near -20° but could drop below -30° at times.

The storm could also produce power outages which could make it difficult for households to stay warm as the frigid temperatures move into the area.

An interesting note – The current forecast for Christmas Day calls for highs in the upper single digits and lower teens. This would make this the coldest Christmas Day since the mid 1980s.