Return to wintry weather Thursday: Difficult travel likely

Temperatures were well above average today and pushed close to 40 degrees at times! Despite this, a cold front is approaching. The good news is it will get us out of this foggy and cloudy pattern. The bad news is it comes with wintry precipitation, wind, and eventually much colder temps.

A Winter Storm Watch is in effect for all of Western Wisconsin, and could be upgraded to a warning or advisory tonight. Wintry weather will start close to tomorrow morning, likely in the form of freezing drizzle or wintry mix. So, give yourself extra commute time tomorrow morning even if it hasn’t started to snow yet.

The three day combined Winter Storm severity product from the Weather Prediction Center shows minor to moderate winter impacts through Friday night. This means that you should expect difficult travel conditions that could become dangerous at times.

We remain below average for both January and winter snowfall to date, but these stats can be deceiving because we don’t normally see a little snow each day. Rather, snow tends to arrive in waves where there are a few days with a lot of snow and many more with little to none. One of those larger systems is approaching.

Unlike a more typical winter storm, this one will last for a longer duration with light to moderate snow rates lasting from Thursday all the way through Friday evening. There could even be some breaks with no snow at all for a bit before it starts up again.

Therefore, don’t expect to wake up to see heavy snow totals on Friday morning. Instead, expect to see an average of 1 to 3 inches in any given six hour period of time. This will lead to widespread totals of 3 to 9 inches across Western Wisconsin, and the highest totals will be where there is expected to be the least amount of breaks in the snowfall.

As of the Wednesday afternoon forecast, this area of higher snow totals looks to be north and west of Eau Claire. As snow continues Friday, it will get windy which will cause some blowing and drifting.

Temperatures will be falling through the weekend, but still above average. Temps will be closer to average early next week with a better chance for below average temps arriving late next week.

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