Prior to the return of warmer weather, an ice storm will affect areas from northern and eastern Missouri to Michigan, southern Ontario and the mid-Atlantic spanning this weekend into the start of next week.
A storm which will produce rain in the Desert Southwest this afternoon and tonight will roll eastward into a zone of departing Arctic air and cold ground over the Midwest.
As AccuWeather.com Staff Writer Grace Muller alluded to on Thursday, a broad area of freezing rain and sleet is in store, lasting from a couple of hours in some locations to an entire day in others.
Major cities that have the potential for a period of freezing this weekend include Omaha, Neb.; St. Louis, Mo.; Des Moines, Iowa; Madison, Wis.; Chicago, Ill.; Indianapolis, Ind.; Detroit, Mich.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; and London, Ontario.
On the southern and western fringe of the ice/wintry mix area, the ice is likely to be brief, but even a thin coating can lead to a few hours of dangerous travel. Farther north and east, an extended period of freezing rain and sleet is possible. If mostly freezing rain occurs, widespread icy roads are likely and the risk of power outages will increase.
A serious ice storm is possible from central and northern Illinois to southern Michigan with this setup. There is the potential for 0.25-0.50 of an inch of buildup of freezing rain on exposed surfaces in some locations.
According to Meteorologist Andy Mussoline, “Even in areas where the air temperature manages to get a bit above the 32-degree mark, the ground is very cold and will cause some of that rain to freeze on contact.”
Freezing rain is much more dangerous than sleet.
According to Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams, “In many cases, the road or sidewalk appears wet, but in fact it can be covered with a thin sheet of ice, called clear ice or black ice.”
“For travel and power considerations, sleet would be a better outcome than freezing rain,” Abrams added.
Pockets of sleet, freezing rain and freezing drizzle are possible farther east late Sunday night into Monday morning from Buffalo, N.Y., to New York City, Philadelphia, Pa., Washington, D.C., and Roanoke, Va. In part of the Northeast, the period of ice can begin as a bit of snow.
The same problems may then advance across portions of upstate New York and New England later in the day Monday into Monday night.
The ice storm will precede a brief warmup for a several-day period next week, before arctic air makes a comeback from the northern Plains into the Midwest and Northeast during early February.
AccuWeather.com will continue to update the potential ice storm situation throughout the weekend.