MONDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE:
Christmas Day is less than one week away! A strong winter storm is going to affect thousands across the United States this week - including Northeast Ohio before Christmas even gets here! The storm is still a few days out, but a clearer picture is coming into view. Let's discuss what we know so far/are expecting and what we do not know quite yet...
WHAT WE KNOW:
- Accumulating snow is likely
- Temps drop like a rock on Friday
- Strong winds are expected on Friday and into the holiday weekend
- Sub-zero wind chills
- Flash freeze likely for Friday's morning commute
- Delays and dangerous traveling conditions are expected
WHAT WE DON'T KNOW:
- Exact track of system
- Exact timing of the front / when exactly temps fall/ when rain changes to snow
- Exact snow & ice totals
- Where squalls will dump the heaviest snow
Not only does it look like it will be a white Christmas this year, but it is also going to be one of the COLDEST Christmas' ever. It could be one for the books! Monday through Wednesday of this week look pretty uneventful. It will be chilly and mainly cloudy, but chances for snow will remain small. Conditions will become a lot more active by the end of the week. On Friday. a strong area of low pressure, that will be strengthening, moves over the region.
Anyone doing any last minute traveling or shopping should plan now for severe weather. Get your shopping done before Friday and prepare to adjust your travel plans as necessary. Roads may be closed and flights may be delayed. Make sure to have a warm weather safety kit in your car just in case you get stuck.
As of Monday, it looks like Thursday will remain on the milder and drier side for most of the day. Rain will be likely by Thursday night and into early on Friday because temperatures will be in the upper 30s to even low 40s.
Temperatures will RAPIDLY drop Friday—falling from the 40s to the single digits by Friday night. This will cause rain to change to snow on Friday. However, since the temperatures are falling so quickly, something known as a flash freeze is possible. This can happen when roads are wet from rain and temperatures plummet FAST. All of the moisture then freezes and creates icy roads. This is definitely a concern right now and something we should all be aware of.
After a few hours of dry, cold, windy weather midday Friday, another round of wrap-around snow is possible for the Friday evening commute. High winds could gust between 40 & 60 mph after 4 p.m. Friday through about 10 a.m. Saturday morning causing blizzard-like conditions and blowing snow are-wide. That snow will likely linger into early daylight hours Saturday for all of Northern Ohio before we transition to Lake Effect snow for the primary snowbelt east of Cleveland for the rest of the event Saturday into early Sunday.
Additionally, this system is expected to bring gusty winds from Thursday - Sunday. The strongest winds will be on Friday/Saturday with wind gusts over 40-50 mph. This will make it feel like it is well below zero for much of the holiday weekend. The strong winds could also bring white-out conditions with blowing and drifting snow. Power outages will be possible which is not a great combo with an arctic blast.
REMEMBER: This still an evolving forecast. Many pieces of the puzzle still need to come together before we can give exact numbers or totals. With that said, the time to plan is now. You should plan for winter weather that could disrupt travel plans during the end of the week and the holiday weekend. We will be updating this forecast all week long! As the forecast becomes more clear, we will start to nail down the timing, the extent of impacts, and snowfall amounts. Keep it with the Power of 5 Weather Team for the latest.
Follow the News 5 Weather Team: