Peoria, Ill. (WMBD) — The National Weather Service has issued Winter Storm Warnings and Winter Weather Advisories throughout much of Central Illinois from 6 am Saturday through 6 am Sunday. Periods of moderate to heavy snow along with sleet and freezing rain will make travel hazardous Saturday afternoon and night.

Key Takeaways

  • Heaviest snow west of the Illinois River, lighter accumulations further east
  • Light ice accumulations possible between the Illinois River and I-57
  • Areas of blowing snow Saturday night with gusts up to 35 mph likely
  • Localized power outages will be possible

While much of Central Illinois received 2-3 inches of snow earlier this week, this system will be the first big winter storm of the season for the region. Regardless of ice and snow accumulations road ways will become slick and make travel hazardous.

The system will ramp up Saturday morning with snow spreading from the southeast to the northwest across Central Illinois. By early afternoon the wintry mix line will set up between I-55 and the Illinois River. Areas within this transition zone will see periods of freezing rain and sleet resulting in a sharp cutoff in snow accumulations south of a Pontiac to Macomb line. Winds will also become gusty Saturday afternoon and evening with gusts up to 35 mph expected from the northeast. This will create areas of blowing and drifting snow, especially by Saturday evening when the snow becomes a bit drier and fluffier.

Peoria Area — Snow will be primary precip type here though a wintry mix of sleet and freezing rain will likely impact the metro area between 1pm and 4pm before changing back to snow. Snow accumulations will range from 4-7 inches with the highest totals on the NW side of town.

Bloomington/Normal — Mixed precip is expected throughout the day and will result in far less snow accumulation here. While precip will start as snow, a transition to wintry mix of sleet and freezing rain will occur through noon and perhaps even a change over to rain between 1pm and 5pm. A transition back to snow is expected after 6 pm. In the end, snow accumulations of 1-3 inches and ice accumulations of 0.10-0.15 are expected here.

Galesburg — Snow will be the only precip type with periods of moderate to heavy snow expected throughout the afternoon. Snow accumulations will range from 5-8 inches here with locally higher amounts possible.

Snow will tapper off overnight and will transition to flurries and freezing drizzle. A sharp drop in temperatures will result in any wet surfaces freezing up overnight leaving roads slick long after the snow has ended.

Snowfall Forecast

As mentioned above there will be a sharp contrast in snow accumulations from the northwest to the southeast. The heaviest snow is expected to fall northwest of the Illinois River where snowfall rates could approach 1 inch per hour. Storm total accumulations will generally range from from 4-8 inches in these areas, but locally higher amounts up to 10 inches will be possible should the heavier rates of snow persist for prolonged periods of time. Further south and east, a mixture of snow, sleet and freezing rain will cut down on accumulations significantly with only 1-3 inches of snow expected in Bloomington and less than than 2 inches expected in Lincoln. The liquid equivalent (melted snow) will generally be around 0.50″ to 0.60″ for much of Central Illinois.

You can see the detailed snowfall forecast below…

Sleet and Freezing Rain Forecast

This is not expected to be a major freezing rain event, but there will likely still be enough ice accretion to create slippery roads Saturday afternoon and evening. Ice accumulations will be the highest between the Illinois River and I-57 where amounts of 0.10 to 0.15 inches are expected. This will likely have a greater impact on areas south of a Bloomington/Normal to Havana line.

Travel is not advised on New Years day. However, for those who must travel be cautious and patient while driving. Slick and untreated roadways might make driving a bit harder and may lead to accidents. Some useful items to have for winter weather car trips include:

  • Snow brushes
  • An ice scraper
  • Blankets (to keep warm if stuck in the car)
  • Extra warm clothes (to keep warm if stuck in the car)
  • Handwarmers (to keep warm if stuck in the car)
  • Gear to repair a car
  • Spare Tire
  • First aid kit
  • Snacks and water
  • Shovels
  • Flashlight
  • Portable phone charger
  • Cell phone

Once the storm moves out bitter cold temperatures will settle into Central Illinois. Lows will drop into the single digits and teens Saturday night and Sunday morning with wind chills as low as -15° west of the Illinois River. On Sunday, despite some sunshine, temperatures will only manage to climb into the mid teens in the afternoon before dropping near to below zero Sunday night.