Several storm systems will throw rounds of snow over portions of the Midwest into the weekend. The extent of slippery travel will depend on the time of day the snow hits particular locations.
Timing is everything for late-season snowfall, especially when it comes to accumulating on roads and sidewalks. The strengthening sun warms road surfaces during the day, even when not visible, so that it has to snow very hard to accumulate from midday into the early evening.
The effect of the sun can also warm the lower atmosphere enough to bring a change to rain. However, the nights are still long enough to allow pavement and concrete to cool for even light snow to cause slush and icy conditions.
A pocket of very cold air in the upper levels of the atmosphere triggered flurries and snow squalls over portions of the Great Lakes and the Ohio Valley Tuesday night into Wednesday. The snow came at the ideal time to cause trouble on the roads around Detroit, Cincinnati and other locations in the Midwest. The snow showers were swinging into the Appalachians Wednesday.
Three additional systems are forecast to roll across the Midwest into the weekend. Your local AccuWeather.com forecast will have details on the timing and nature of the events. Below is a general synopsis of the storm systems.
Spanning Thursday into Thursday night, a swath of snow and/or wintry mix will sweep from northwest to southeast reaching across portions of Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky.
The cities of Madison, Wis., Peoria and Chicago, Ill. and Indianapolis are in the path of this system. The system brought a coating to a few inches of snow and slush Wednesday night into early Thursday from northeastern North Dakota to southeastern Minnesota. For most areas farther southeast, including the lower Ohio Valley, the snow will tend to melt as it falls on roads during the midday and afternoon.
A few locations in eastern Kentucky into the southern Appalachians could have enough snow to cover the ground, since it will fall during Thursday night.
Spanning Thursday evening into Friday night, another swath of snow and/or wintry mix will take a southeastern path but will likely track a few hundred miles farther north than the midweek system. This system is also likely to pack heavier precipitation and a greater chance of a general swath of a few inches of snow.
The late-week snow swath will run from northern North Dakota and northern and central Minnesota to a large part of Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and a large part of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan to Southwest Ontario.
The cities of Fargo, N.D., International Falls, Minn., Green Bay, Wis., Traverse City and Detroit, Mich., and London, Ontario, are in the path of the snow. Friday morning commuters around Fargo and International Falls could have slippery conditions.
Folks out and about around Detroit later Friday night into first thing Saturday morning could also face travel delays.
The third system will bring snow and/or a wintry mix farther south in more of a west to east swath affecting part of the central Plains to part of the northern Ohio Valley states during Sunday. While the track of the accumulating snow is very uncertain at this time, it could run along part of I-80 over the Plains and along I-70 east of the Mississippi River.
If the third system tracks farther south than this, it may only bring rain or wet and melting snow to the I-64 corridor Sunday.
A larger and stronger storm is still in the works for early next week for the northern Plains and the Midwest. Exactly which areas are most likely to have heavy snow, heavy rain, thunderstorms, wind or all of these conditions will be detailed in the coming days on AccuWeather.com.
The same series of storm systems will also impact areas in the East.
Thumbnail image of slushy roads by Photos.com