Haddie McLean says strong winds and snowy roads main travel threats before Thanksgiving
A strong storm system will move almost directly over southern Wisconsin this morning. Any rain and snow will end this morning. Light snow accumulations, less than 2″, will be possible north of Wisconsin Dells.
If you are planning travel to the north and west, heavier snow is expected from the northwestern third of Iowa to southern and eastern Minnesota, including the Twin Cities metropolitan area, and the northwestern third of Wisconsin, including Eau Claire, Wausau and Rhinelander. Parts of north-central Wisconsin and the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan may see snow totals approaching 1 foot by this afternoon because of lake-effect snow from Lake Superior. A winter storm warning is in effect for this area for snow and strong winds that will develop this morning.
Travel may also be affected by high winds today. Southeasterly winds will switch to the west and northwest this morning and increase in speed, drawing colder air across the state. A Wind Advisory has been issued for southern Wisconsin today.
Sustained winds of 20 mph to 35 mph are expected over southern Wisconsin, with some wind gusts to 40 mph or higher, but over the flat land of eastern Iowa and northern Illinois, sustained winds of 25 mph to 40 mph are expected, with some wind gusts of 50 mph or more possible. In addition to causing some damage to trees, loose objects such as garbage cans and holiday decorations could be blown about by the high winds. Large vehicles and towed trailers will be very difficult to manage on open roads.
Air travel may also be affected by snow and high winds. Heavy snow and high winds are expected for the Twin Cities. High winds may also affect operations at O’Hare and Midway airports in Chicago and possibly at airports in Detroit, as well.
The Thanksgiving holiday will start with partly sunny skies and much lighter winds. Clouds will increase through the day it will be cold with high temperatures in the mid-30s. A few flurries are possible in the afternoon. The flurries may mix with freezing drizzle Thursday night into early Friday morning, if temperatures are cold enough and there is enough moisture to generate precipitation.
Another storm system will affect much of the Midwest from Friday through the rest of the holiday weekend. Rain will develop by Friday afternoon and continue into Saturday morning. Temperatures should be warm enough for most of this precipitation to be mainly in the form of rain, but a mix of rain and snow can’t be ruled out Friday night as temperatures will be close to freezing for a few hours before climbing through the 30s overnight.
As another strong storm system moves over Wisconsin on Saturday, strong southeasterly winds ahead of the storm will switch to the west behind a cold front, causing temperatures to fall Saturday afternoon. Depending on how fast the temperatures fall, some untreated roads could become icy for a time. The precipitation will become spotty on Saturday afternoon and night as it changes to snow, but occasional light snow and strong winds are expected on Sunday as colder air tightens its grip on the Midwest. While not expected to be heavy, a persistent light snow could lead to 1 or 2 inches of accumulation during the day Sunday, blown around by strong winds. This could lead to travel issues at a time when many people will be on the roads heading home after the holiday weekend.
It you are planning travel overnight through Wednesday and again on Sunday, please pay special attention to the latest forecasts and be prepared to adjust your plans accordingly.
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