Winter Storm Timeline, Impacts, and Numbers

Cold, arctic air continues to surge southeast out of the western US and will move into the Midwest and help spin up a powerful area of low pressure Thursday. For us locally, this will be an impactful storm, but not in the way that most winter storms are with heavy snows and specific snowfall forecasting. As we’ve mentioned for the last week, this storm will bring impacts with strong, potentially damaging winds, and a rapid temp drop that will bring bitterly cold air in. On top of that we’ll have some snow, but the snowy side of this system locally won’t be the biggest impact.

Let’s dive into the details:

IMPACT #1: TEMP DROP, BITTERLY COLD AIR

As the arctic front surges into the Region Thursday, temps will rapidly drop during the early afternoon hours on strong winds. We’ll likely go from the mid to upper 30s down to near 0 in the matter of a few hours. Wind chill values will become dangerously cold by late afternoon and will remain extremely cold all the way through Christmas Day. Wind chill values will average in the -25 to -30 range–some truly impressive cold air delivered straight from the arctic!

IMPACT #2: STRONG WINDS

Another thing you’ll notice as this arctic front hits is that winds will go from light to strong in a hurry. Early afternoon Thursday is when we’re also expecting the winds to pick up with gusts exceeding 40 mph initially. The winds look to peak later Friday into Friday night with strong gusts expected to peak in the 40-50 mph range. Strong gusts will continue through early Saturday before gradually subsiding through Christmas Day. These strong winds will easily blow around the snow we receive causing blowing and drifting snow as well as poor visibility at times.

IMPACT #3 SOME SNOW

We continue to emphasize that snow will NOT be the biggest issue with this storm and while it won’t be a walk in the park, we’re not looking for big totals by any means. We get it, snow is the fun part to talk about with storms and it’s typically the portion of the storm that causes the greatest impacts (because you normally don’t have strong winds or bitterly cold temps), but this storm is different and the snow doesn’t take top impact. The bulk of the snow will fall once the arctic front hits (and when the wind whips up and temps start plummeting) with several hours of moderate to heavy snow possible.

We’re forecasting a quick 2-6 inches through Thursday evening with that initial push of snow. Combined with the winds, our conditions will go downhill quickly Thursday evening into Thursday night. After that, the snow from the system will move out with lingering lake effect snow mainly confined to our eastern counties (LaPorte and perhaps Porter County). We could pick up additional snow in those counties pushing totals closer to 12 inches in the eastern snowbelt with lighter additional accumulations possible elsewhere with any lingering snow showers. The Euro and all models are still pointing to some decent snows, take a look:

We feel these numbers are certainly possible, but may be on the higher end of things. Either way, we’ll have some snow and with the wind and cold, we’ll still have an impactful winter storm later Thursday through Friday. If you have travel plans during the day Saturday or into Christmas Eve itself, conditions will be improved, but the snowbelt out east will still be getting some lake effect snow so keep that in mind. Our strong winds will continue to blow and drift the snow, especially on north-south roadways, so travel conditions don’t look ideal until Christmas Day itself, but at least travel will be possible on Christmas Eve for our good winter weather drivers out there 🙂

Next Update: Wednesday AM Graphic/Radio Updates

Wednesday PM Region Weather LIVE (time tbd)

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