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FIRST ALERT WEATHER DAY: Wintry mix of rain, freezing rain, snow to cause slick travel Thursday

Impacts to be greatest during afternoon, evening hours
Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 7:20 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - The past two days have been provided a needed respite from the winter blahs we’d endured for the better part of the past two weeks. A second day of sunshine was a pleasant surprise to most in the Stateline Wednesday, though the sun’s governance of our skies wasn’t quite as lengthy as it was Tuesday. Still, though, it was enough to produce the year’s warmest temperatures to date, and the warmest readings since a 46° high temperature back on December 27!

Wednesday's 41° high temperature was easily the warmest of 2021 in Rockford, though changes do...
Wednesday's 41° high temperature was easily the warmest of 2021 in Rockford, though changes do loom in the days ahead.(Mark Henderson, WIFR)

Changes are in the offing, though, and they’re coming quickly, as a winter storm system takes aim on the area Thursday. Make no mistake about it, this one’s NOT to be a blockbuster. It will, however, likely feature a sloppy cocktail of rain, freezing rain, perhaps sleet, and then snow, which could make travel particularly treacherous at times. A Winter Weather Advisory has been placed in effect for Jo Daviess, Stephenson, and Carroll Counties for Thursday.

A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for Jo Daviess, Stephenson, and Carroll Counties for...
A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for Jo Daviess, Stephenson, and Carroll Counties for Thursday. It's possible this could be expanded eastward later Wednesday night or early Thursday.(Mark Henderson, WIFR)

Thursday’s set to commence on a quiet note. Precipitation’s on track to arrive either late in the morning or around midday. While temperatures are to be monitored closely, the thought is that most of the area will be above the freezing mark, so rain’s likely to be the primary form of precipitation. Where temps may be slightly cooler, especially west and north of Rockford, freezing rain MAY be an issue.

Precipitation's likely to start in the form of rain around midday, though close attention to...
Precipitation's likely to start in the form of rain around midday, though close attention to temperatures will need to be paid in the event freezing may occur.(Mark Henderson, WIFR)

Come the early afternoon hours, colder air will begin to rush into the region, allowing precipitation to change in form. It’s possible there could be a period of freezing rain, or perhaps a mix of rain, freezing rain, and snow, in the window between 1:00 and 3:00pm.

Early in the afternoon, many folks may start to see the rain change to freezing rain as...
Early in the afternoon, many folks may start to see the rain change to freezing rain as temperatures begin to fall.(Mark Henderson, WIFR)

From there, a quick changeover to snow is anticipated. Accumulating snow’s to become increasingly likely in the mid to late afternoon hours, and likely taking us into the evening commute.

Snow's to be the form of precipitations over most of the area by early evening, though perhaps...
Snow's to be the form of precipitations over most of the area by early evening, though perhaps some sleet may mix in.(Mark Henderson, WIFR)

As the evening progresses, snow is likely to continue over most of the area. However, it’s likely at that time that it will be letting up in intensity.

Snow's still likely Thursday evening, though it's likely to be much lighter by that time.
Snow's still likely Thursday evening, though it's likely to be much lighter by that time.(Mark Henderson, WIFR)

By late Thursday evening, snow will have wound down over most, if not all of the Stateline.

Precipitation's likely to be finished by late evening.
Precipitation's likely to be finished by late evening.(Mark Henderson, WIFR)

The big question, now, revolves around just how much snow may come down. To be blunt, it won’t be much. Our forecast calls for one to three inches of accumulation, though most of us will end up on the lower side of the spectrum, in the one to two inch range. Still, it’ll be enough to shovel in most spots, and more than enough to slow down travel. Areas north and west of Rockford are among those favored for the highest snow accumulations.

One to three inches of snow is likely during this event, though most of us will end up in the...
One to three inches of snow is likely during this event, though most of us will end up in the one to two inch range.(Mark Henderson, WIFR)

The other component to this potentially hazardous situation is ice. While this storm is, by no means, to be a crippling ice producer, past experiences have shown that even the slightest amount of ice accumulation can have serious impacts on untreated road surfaces. It’s no coincidence that the counties expected to receive the most “significant” amounts of ice are the same presently covered underneath the Winter Weather Advisory.

Ice accumulation is forecast to be modest, at best. However, even a little bit will be enough...
Ice accumulation is forecast to be modest, at best. However, even a little bit will be enough to make roads quite slick.(Mark Henderson, WIFR)

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