The first snowfall of the season is expected to blanket corn-growing areas of the Midwest, including Chicago and Milwaukee, Accuweather reported Wednesday.
The storm is expected to produce a swath of snow from the northern Rockies on Thursday to the central Plains on Friday and the Great Lakes region Friday night into Saturday. Exactly where the swath of heaviest accumulating snow falls will depend on the track and strength of the storm, Accuweather notes.
"In the Midwest, the most likely area for a few inches of snow to fall is from northeastern Iowa to northwestern Illinois, southern Wisconsin and into part of northern Michigan," says Brian Wimer, AccuWeather senior meteorologist.
Madison, Wisconsin, and Rockford, Ill., to Traverse City, Mich., are among the cities that could receive enough snow to shovel and plow.
While a light snowfall is initially expected in the swath from Des Moines, Iowa, to Chicago and Detroit, a southward shift in the track of the storm could bring heavier snow to these areas.
How much snow accumulates, especially on road surfaces, will depend on the time of day and the rate of snowfall. The storm will start off as rain in many portions of the Midwest.
"Where it snows at night or snows hard during the day will be the places that have the most problems on the roads in terms of slippery travel," Wimer said.
Near or above-freezing temps
Temperatures will be near or above freezing during part of the storm. The snow will fall during the midday and afternoon hours in some locations. Both will contribute to some of the snow melting as it falls or being mixed with rain for a time.
"Colder air will be drawn in during the second half of the storm," Wimer said.
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Regardless of the amount of snow, untreated wet and slushy areas will freeze at night as temperatures plunge into the 20s and even dip into the teens in some locations. The freeze-up will occur Friday night on parts of the Plains and Saturday night in portions of the Midwest.
There are indications the storm will strengthen upon reaching the Great Lakes region. How quickly this occurs could add wind, blowing and drifting snow and poor visibility as impacts from the storm.
"For portions of Wisconsin, northern Illinois and northern Michigan, it will seem like a storm in the middle of the winter, rather than a storm during the middle of November," Wimer said.
Should the storm develop to its full potential with added moisture from the Great Lakes, some locations could receive a foot of snow.
Farther south and east over the region, a period of snow or flurries is likely to reach the lower Great Lakes and central Appalachians with a slap of much colder air this weekend.
A light covering of snow may extend to Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Buffalo, New York, with a few inches possible over the higher ground in the central Appalachians during Saturday night into Sunday morning.
Bands of heavy lake-effect snow will set up to the lee of the Great Lakes following the storm, Accuweather says.
California drought continues
Meanwhile in the West, USDA meteorologist Brad Rippey said on Wednesday that the start of winter has been encouraging precipitation-wise, as recent rains have improved the area's drought status.
However, significant moisture is needed to calm the drought, specifically in California, Rippey says.
"California's reservoirs are only at 53% of their normal storage for this time of year," he said. "It will take a winter-long series of storms to really put a dent in this hydrologic drought."