COLUMBUS (WCMH) – We are now just a few hours from this big winter storm coming into our area. For some of us, a MAJOR change will be occurring as soon as Friday morning. A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect starting at 10 a.m. along and north of I-70; a Winter Storm Warning is in effect for the southeastern half of the state through 10 a.m. on Saturday.
We can finally see the set-up on VIPIR Radar tonight
The low that we have been waiting to get its moisture is starting to show up in play and the cold front, clearly from the temperature departure map it is to our west, but closer than temperatures would have you believe.
In the next 24 hours that messy system to the south will start to pull east and then begin to shift northeast. We will be on the backside of this system and will get some of its moisture. As you can see the heaviest stuff along the Louisiana/Texas line tonight. We will first though have that cold front roll through and it will start to drop temperatures on Friday.
When and where can we expect the changeover to mix, then snow
When we get up on Friday, even with the cold front pushing through the state, we will still have warm temperatures in place, due to our near record warm airmass that is in place right now.
This means morning precipitation that falls in our area, will fall as rain early, including for the morning commute. As that morning commute thins out by mid-morning, we will see a mix initiating to the west and northwest.
By noon, we will see that mix line pushing east and spreading over more of our area. A few things that should work in our favor is the freezing line as the surface should still be west. In fact, I think temperatures will still be in the middle 30s in most spots in the I-71 corridor still by mid-day on Friday. The other thing is the ground has been warm for some time, so that should help delay for a bit some of the potential freezing rain from forming on roadways.
By the afternoon hours, we will see more of a mix across our area about the time the kids get out of school on Friday, and this is important as there will be slick spots around the area for the little ones by mid-afternoon. I think to the east we will still have mild enough air that we should see rain, and to the west and northwest, it will be cold enough to be all snow potential at this point.
By Friday evening for the commute, it is not going to be fun, as at best we will have a wintry mix out there as temperatures fall below freezing just about everywhere. As worst we are going to see the snow picking up in our area, especially west early. It does appear the evening commute is going to be slow and there will be more and more slick spots at this time as 20s will be in the west and northwest and around freezing temperatures in the east.
Even though it will be a cloudy evening, the eventual sundown and the cooling a few more degrees heading through sunset hours (after 6-7pm) we should start to quickly see that potential mix line, changing to an all snow line in our area.
This is going to really be the period where we pick up the bulk of our snowfall for the next few hours leading up towards midnight.
After this time, I do expect snow to taper off from west to east overnight into the pre-sunrise hours on Saturday.
How much snowfall can we expect from this system
On top of the very thin glaze of ice that will be possible in spots, we should add on additional snowfall to make for a wonderful wintry mess. I still feel strongly, based on everything I have been watching, that the highest totals will be in the northeast part of the state. Even though I have put a 2-4″ total in the northwest, it is possible we could have some isolated higher totals in the higher elevation spots. The bulk of the area will generally be in the 2-5″ range.
But notice I have kept numbers in the 1-3 inch totals southeast, with the isolated spot in the hills pushing a bit above 3″. The southeast will be especially tricky due to more hills and slicker conditions.
Bottom line… if you can stay in Friday night & Saturday morning, stay home!
I know it is the weekend and all, but I strongly suggest waiting out this system and waiting until it is over and the streets are cleared before venturing out. We will have additional windy conditions overnight into Saturday that will make travel difficult. Stay home, break into the eggs, milk, and bread, and enjoy some french toast during this french toast weather! In all seriousness, safety is key though, so stay warm, be careful shoveling as this will be heavy (by weight) snow!
If you have any questions about this weather, or any great pictures, send them my way, firstname.lastname@example.org