Through Saturday night... It still appears that the highest potential for significant freezing rain and sleet accumulations (~0.25") will be in the warning area across far north central IL tonight. Forecast guidance has trended a bit slower with the arrival of the subfreezing airmass farther south and east towards the Chicago suburbs tonight. For this reason, it continues to appear that most areas outside of the current warned area could remain above freezing through the night, resulting in little threat of freezing, at least through daybreak Saturday. While areas outside the currently Winter Storm Warning should remain mainly ice free tonight, the threat of heavy rain possible flooding will be the main concern. The possibility is there to have 1 to 3 inches of rain tonight right into the Chicago metro area, and this could result in flooding concerns across the area. The freezing line should gradually sag southward into parts of the western and northern suburbs of Chicago around, or shortly after daybreak. This should occur after the heaviest rainfall occurs, so only light freezing precipitation is possible over parts of the area on Saturday (mainly north and west of the city of Chicago). Precipitation is expected to redevelop over the area later in the afternoon and evening Saturday. This will occur as strong large scale forcing for ascent associated with the primary mid/upper level impulse shifts over the area. Precipitation type with this second wave of heavier precipitation will change to snow over much of my northern IL counties early in the evening as the column dynamically cools, but will only gradually change to snow over northwestern Indiana before ending. The snow is likely to be moderate to heavy over northern IL Saturday evening. Given the likelihood that the snow could fall heavy at times due to some strong mesoscale forced ascent within the low to mid level deformation zone, a quick 2 to 6 inches are possible before the snow ends shortly after midnight. The heaviest amounts are likely to be north of I-80, with little accumulation expected over east central IL and northwestern IN.
URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE National Weather Service Chicago IL 403 AM CST Fri Jan 10 2020 ...Periods of Wintry Precipitation, Possibly Significant, Tonight Through Saturday Night... ...WINTER STORM WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 9 PM THIS EVENING TO 3 AM CST SUNDAY... * WHAT...A mix of freezing rain and sleet is likely by mid to late evening, possibly mixed with snow at times overnight and Saturday morning. Total ice accumulations in excess of two tenths of an inch are likely tonight into Saturday morning, with sleet accumulation also possible. While precipitation may lighten in intensity Saturday late morning through mid afternoon, a period of heavy snow is likely late Saturday afternoon and night. Total snow accumulations of 3 to 7 inches are expected. Northeast winds will gust as high as 40 mph overnight into Saturday and combined with ice and snow may cause further impacts. * WHERE...Portions of north central and northeast Illinois. * WHEN...From 9 PM CST this evening to 3 AM CST Sunday. * IMPACTS...Travel will be significantly impacted at times, especially mid to late evening through early Saturday morning, and then again later Saturday afternoon into Saturday night. Some power outages and tree damage are possible due to the combination of ice and wind. Patchy blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility later Saturday afternoon and night. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS... If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food, and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency.
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Through Saturday night... The well-advertised complex winter storm is still on track across the area tonight through Saturday night. Heavy rain, mixed precip including freezing rain and snow/sleet, and strong winds will produce significant hazards across at least portions of the area during this time. Synopsis: A well-defined trough near the Four Corners region early this morning will shift east into the Texas panhandle by this evening, then turn northeast, crossing over or just northwest of the CWA early Saturday evening. Surface cyclogenesis is ongoing across west Texas at this time with a trough axis extending NE to another low between Lake Superior and James Bay. The trough represents a cold front that is drifting southeast into the northwest CWA, located roughly from Dixon to near Rockford as of 3am. The front will continue to edge southeast today, then stall roughly along the I-55 corridor late this afternoon into this evening as the developing low takes control of the mass field in the region and induces stronger south winds ahead of the cold front. Guidance continues to show mixed signals on exactly where, and in what form (concentric vs. elongated) the surface low will track across the region, but a passage generally just southeast of the CWA late Saturday afternoon is appearing most likely. Heavy rain: Periods of light rain or drizzle are expected today, especially southeast. Then, an extremely unseasonably moist air mass with near +4 standard deviation PWAT air in the warm conveyor belt of the system will quickly advect into the region on strong 60-80 knot low-level winds late this afternoon into this evening. Periods of moderate to heavy rain are expected across much of the CWA tonight through daybreak Sunday. With continued anomalously high soil moisture from a wet 2019, potentially some pockets of remaining ground frost, and high precip rates, flooding remains a concern across the area tonight. Brief rainfall rates of up to 1" per hour are possible. The area of most concern for flooding remains unchanged, around and southeast of I-55. However, heavy precip is still expected across the remainder of the CWA, but will begin to fall as mixed precip and limit some runoff overnight (more on that below). Finally, a 100-200 j/kg MUCAPE axis edging into the south half of the CWA tonight will support some embedded thunder, which would further enhance precip rates. Winter Precipitation: A rather complex winter precip set-up is expected with this event, largely owing to the potentially slow movement of the surface cold front and northwest tilt of the low with height. For the most part, this forecast has trended to slightly more freezing rain/sleet than snow for portions of the area around and northwest of the cold front. Otherwise, no significant adjustments have been made. The current expectation is for rain to transition to freezing rain across the northwest CWA by mid-evening, with the rain/freezing rain line eventually reaching from near Waukegan to Elgin to Mendota by daybreak Saturday. A ~2-3hr period of freezing rain will likely occur before the low-level cold layer deepens enough to allow for a transition to sleet. Indications are that an extensive period (up to 6 hours) of primarily sleet is possible across the NW half of the CWA ahead of the surface low late tonight into Saturday as the NW tilted low with height continues to feed warm aloft well into the northwest CWA. This southeastward advance of the freezing line will slow on Saturday in response to the approaching surface low, reaching only a line from near Gary to Morris to Pontiac by early evening. The line will then rapidly advance southeast, clearing the remainder of the CWA by midnight. By this point, the passage of the low below 700 hPa will allow deep CAA to take hold and quickly narrow the width of the rain/freezing rain/sleet/snow transition. In fact, locations southeast of I-57 may experience only a 1-2hr transitional period from rain to snow. Snow will quickly end from SW to NW overnight Saturday night. Overall, an axis of ice accumulation around 0.25" with up to an inch of sleet is expected northwest of a line from Mendota to Elgin to Lake County (IL) away from Lake Michigan, with amounts quickly dropping to little to no accumulation southeast of I-55. Though QPF is expected to be high, ice accumulations will likely be hindered by warm hydrometeors, high precip rates resulting in run-off before freezing, and surface air temps only at or slightly below freezing for a period. Regarding snow, amounts range from near 4-6" across the far north and northwest, to 2" or less southeast of I-55. Winter Headlines: Counties in the northwest portion of the Winter Storm Watch have been upgraded to a Winter Storm Watch due to increasing confidence in warning criteria impacts from a combination of ice, snow and wind, and wintry precip beginning as early as this evening. Have continued the watch for Lake, Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall and La Salle as impacts may be borderline warning/advisory and due to a later onset of wintry precip (late tonight into Saturday morning). Kluber Winds and Lakeshore Flooding... This will be a noteworthy possibly even upper level impacts of this multi-faceted system, particularly lakeshore flooding for northeast Illinois and far northwest Indiana. Tonight as the first low lifts northeast toward the Lower Great Lakes, the pressure gradient responds by tightening as pressures sharply fall (6-9 mb per 6 hrs). By midnight, these resulting northeast winds will become near unidirectional in the mixed boundary layer of a couple thousand feet thick where cold advection will be occurring, and that will be north of the boundary including over the lake. By late tonight, gusts lakeside and at least several miles inland in Lake (IL), Cook, and Lake (IN) look to be 40-45 mph. This should result in a quick wave increase late evening into overnight. While have moved this up some, still feel the midnight start time for the Lakeshore Flood Warning is adequate. Saturday will see the cumulative effects of wind-driven waves and the highest wave heights. A big factor with this will be duration of the winds from the most ideal fetch length (010-020 degrees for NE IL). As the second low lifts northward, there should be some veering of the surface and boundary layer winds to a more NE direction into Saturday afternoon. That would ease the fetch some. In total from late tonight through the day Saturday, winds look to gust 40-45 mph possibly even a tad higher into the lakefront for about 18 hours. The 10.00Z HREF supports this with a mean of its high-res members providing 40-45 mph gusts along the Lake IL and much of the Cook shore. We did some comparing the forecast for this event to what occurred with the Oct 31, 2014 event, that had substantial lakeside flooding in northeast Illinois including onto parts of Chicago's Lake Shore Drive. That event had more of a 360-010 wind direction for the entire event and 21 hours of 40+ mph gusts at the Chicago Crib (including a period of 55-60 mph gusts). Feel that we will be a little shy of that wind direction and duration and certainly on those peak speeds. But the lake level is about three feet higher. So given that and with 12-18 ft waves forecast, certainly think this is well into warning level and there is a chance of higher level impacts such as Lake Shore Drive seeing some impacts. Also any northeast Illinois locations that experienced lakeside flooding with this past autumn's Halloween and Veterans Day storms will easily experience another level higher of impacts. As for whether needing a Wind Advisory, I certainly think the high gusts are a key message, but with the winter weather headline in effect, feel that we may mention it there for right now, even though the highest gusts may not overlap the wintry weather perfectly. Will note in messaging/graphics as well. MTF && .LONG TERM... 404 AM CST Sunday through Thursday... The weather pattern will certainly remain progressive and active into next week, with multiple Pacific systems. These are expected to be so close to each other's heels that the column does not moderate much. So a chance of snow is presently forecast for roughly north of I-80 Sunday night and area wide on Monday night, before possibly a transition to liquid on Tuesday within the system warm advection aloft. For Sunday night's wave, this does have a negative tilt in guidance and a compact, progressive jet and vort max. This may be able to produce a few inches given that forcing for lift and Pacific origin moisture, though right now those magnitudes of any snow are more favored to the northwest of the area, but within the envelope of uncertainty. Only real change in the extended was to lower highs on Sunday a smidge more in north central and the northern Chicago suburbs where snow accumulation is expected Saturday. With the increase in clouds on Sunday evening already, temperatures are not likely to dip much that night and may even climb. Looking ahead to midweek, Wednesday night could be a chilly night, with both the GFS and EC bringing a strong cold front through. Given the likelihood of snow Saturday in the northwestern half of the CWA, and other chances after that, could see some lows near zero if the guidance is not too cool on predicted 850-925 mb temperatures going into Thursday morning. MTF && .AVIATION... For the 06Z TAFs... Forecast concerns include... Strong south/southwest winds early this morning. Wind shift to northeast Friday morning. Strong north/northeast winds Friday night. Lifr cigs tonight lifting to ifr Friday. Moderate/heavy rain Friday night. Freezing rain/sleet northwest IL Friday night. South/southwest winds are still gusting into the mid 20kt range late this evening and these will diminish over the next few hours and turn more west/southwest. A cold front will move into northwest IL overnight and then across the terminals later Friday morning. Winds will shift to the north/northeast behind this front. Speeds are expected to increase to near 10kts in the afternoon and then steadily increase Friday evening with gusts to 30kts by late Friday evening and perhaps into the 30-35kt range by early Saturday morning. Mvfr cigs developed this evening and have been slowly lowering and this trend is handled well by guidance which is showing cigs lowering to lifr by morning and followed these trends which are similar to the going forecasts. Cigs are expected to lift at least back to ifr Friday but may remain in ifr as the front slows and stalls across the area. Guidance is also in good agreement with cigs improving to at least mvfr and possibly vfr at rfd for a time Friday before mvfr cigs and then ifr cigs move back across northwest IL Friday evening. The models have backed off on rain chances tonight but showers are still possible along/ahead of the front and as this front slows and stalls...rain showers may persist through midday for the Chicago terminals but there does now appear to be a lull in the precip with the afternoon hours potentially mainly dry across much of the area. Moderate to heavy rain is then expected to spread across the entire area early Friday evening and should continue through Saturday morning. As colder air spreads across northwest IL...the precipitation is expected to turn to freezing rain and then mix with sleet and snow. There is still some uncertainty as to how fast this occurs at rfd...but opted to go prevailing freezing rain and sleet at rfd by late Friday evening. A wintry precip mix is possible at dpa...but likely after 06z Saturday...the end of the period. For the 30 hour ord taf...precip may also begin to mix by 12z Saturday but confidence is too low to include any mixed precip with this forecast. cms && .MARINE... 404 AM CST Strong high pressure will move from the Dakotas tonight to Ontario on Saturday as a trough of low pressure develops from Michigan south to the Arklatex. This will create a tight gradient over southern Lake Michigan with northeast winds quickly increasing this evening. Strong low pressure will then move northeast along this trough Saturday afternoon into Saturday evening, prolonging the strong northeast winds. Gales gusting to 40-45 kts are likely, and cannot completely rule out a few storm force gusts in especially the Illinois nearshore. Waves are likely to build to 12 to 18 ft late tonight into Saturday. The low will begin to weaken over the eastern Great Lakes Sunday morning with winds first turning northwest Saturday evening then quickly diminishing through early Sunday afternoon.