Peoria, Ill. – Beginning Thursday afternoon, a series of storm systems will bring periods of rain, ice and snow to Central Illinois. Periods of gusty winds are also expected through the weekend.
Storm 1 – Thursday afternoon through Friday morning
The first storm system will drag a cold front through Central Illinois Thursday evening with scattered rain showers and gusty winds developing ahead of the front. Winds may gust to 40 mph throughout the day before decreasing a bit Thursday night. Rainfall amounts from this first storm will generally be light locally with less than a half-inch of rain expected through Friday morning.
There should be a brief break in the rain Friday morning before things ramp up in the afternoon and evening as the second and stronger storm arrives.
Storm 2 – Friday afternoon through Saturday night
This second system will be the stronger of the two storms and could produce ice and snow across Central Illinois through Saturday. While the exact track of the storm is uncertain, it looks like the storm will track from Texas to Arkansas then lift to the northeast to Ohio or Indiana.
Rain is expected to redevelop Friday afternoon and could be heavy at times Friday night. Areas west of a Macomb to Princeton line should see a wintry mix and freezing rain around midnight with locations along the Illinois River changing over around day break on Saturday. Ice will gradually change to snow from west to east throughout the day on Saturday with snow falling area-wide Saturday night.
The risk of freezing rain depends on two things, the amount of warm air aloft and how fast temperatures drop below freezing at the surface. As the area of low pressure strengthens to our south, a conveyor belt of warm moist air will be drawn northward over Illinois. Meanwhile, at the surface, colder temperatures will be drawn southward by the strengthening surface low. If temperatures aloft can be kept above freezing while surface temperatures sit below freezing, snow falling from the clouds will melt and refreeze once it hits the ground.
There is still a good amount of uncertainty in the exact track of the low and temperature profile of the atmosphere, both of which will have a significant impact on just how much ice and snow the area sees.
Freezing Rain Forecast
It’s too early to know how much freezing rain the area will see. At this time, it appears the transition from rain to freezing to snow could be relatively quick as the cold air is drawn into the region. Still, a 3-6 hour period of freezing rain is possible, especially along and west of the Illinois River.
It’s too early to know how much snow the area will see but accumulating snow is possible across all of Central Illinois. Snow should begin in the west early Saturday morning and along I-55 sometime Saturday afternoon. Areas along and west of the Illinois River will have the best chances of seeing accumulation through Saturday night. Regardless of snowfall amounts, gusty north-northwest winds will create areas of blowing and drifting snow which will make travel hazardous.
From Thursday through Saturday night rainfall/melted ice and snowfall amounts will be between 1 and 3 inches. The heaviest rain will fall across southern Illinois with 3 to 5 inches of rain expected there.
If you are planning to travel between Friday night and Saturday night be sure to check the forecast frequently and prepare for hazardous travel conditions and delays. Ice and snow accumulation forecasts will be made in the next few days as we get closer.