10:30pm Thursday Update: Areas along and east of Interstate 39 will have a just a bit more snow as this system is exiting the area. The majority of the Blizzard and Winter Storm Warnings are set to expire at midnight. However, significant blowing and drifting snow, espeically on open and rural areas, will continue through late Friday morning.
5:30pm Thursday Update: Snow has begun to pick back up in Rockford after a bit of a lull. I still expect snowfall totals to be in that 4 to 8 inch forecast in the Forest City, perhaps on the lower end of the spectrum. But totals to the northwest have been observed in the 6 to 12 inch range.
4:15pm Thursday Update: An intense band of heavy snow is now just east of Interstate 39 through eastern Rock, Walworth, Boone, DeKalb, and eastern Lee County. Snowfall reports of up to 9 inches have been reported across northern Stephenson County.
2:30pm Thursday Update: Snow has begun in Rockford and continues in areas along and west of the Rock River. A very heavy ban of snow stretches along the Stateline. Heavy snow will continue to slide east and affect the entire area throughout the afternoon. Wind gusts 40 to 50mph can be expected, with one or two gusts topping 50mph.
12pm Thursday Update: A Blizzard Warning remains in effect for the entire WREX viewing area with the exception of McHenry & Walworth County (where a Winter Storm Warning is in effect). However, we will allexperience blizzard or near-blizzard conditions Thursday afternoon and night. Areas to the west and north of Rockford will pick up the most snow—up to a foot in some spots. In the Rockford metro, the forecast of 4 to 8 inches will continue with isolated higher totals. To the south, snowfall totals will be a bit less in the 3 to 6 inch range.
The wind will begin to howl late this afternoon with gusts up to 50mph. This will create treacherous conditions on area roads, especially in rural and open areas. Travel will likely not be advised this evening.
11pm Wednesday Update:As of Wednesday evening, there are numerous watches and warnings in effect for Thursday’s winter storm. Here’s the rundown:
A Blizzard Warning is in effect for Jo Daviess County from 6pm Wednesday through 6pm Thursday.
A Winter Storm Warning is in effect for Stephenson, Carroll, and Whiteside County from 6am Thursday through 6pm Thursday.
A Winter Storm Warning is in effect for Winnebago, Boone, Ogle, and Lee County from 9am Thursday through 12am Friday.
A Winter Storm Warning is in effect for DeKalb and McHenry County from 3pm Thursday through 12am Friday.
A Winter Storm Warning is in effect for Green County from 6pm Wednesday through 12noon Thursday. A Blizzard Warning takes effect from 12noon Thursday through 12am Friday.
A Winter Storm Warning is in effect for Rock County from midnight tonight through 12noon Thursday. A Blizzard Warning takes effect from 12noon through 12am Friday.
A Winter Storm Warning is in effect for Walworth County from midnight tonight through 3am Friday.
So what do all of these warnings and watches mean? A significant winter storm will impact the entire region. Some areas are in line to receive more snow while other areas will pick up more rain, limiting snowfall. To the north and west of Rockford, the snow accumulations will be significant. Futher to the south and east of the Forest City, a rain/mix will dominate the forecast. Rockford will be right in the middle, with snow beginning to accumulate by late Thursday morning. However, all locations will eventually see a switch over to all snow. The wind will begin to howl out of the northwest on Thursday afternoon, creating treacherous travel conditions—blizzard or near blizzard conditions. The wind will be sustained between 30mph and 40mph during the afternoon. Wind gusts could top 50mph at times! It will be best to avoid traveling during such hazardous conditions.
Keep an eye on the blog. Chief Meteorologist Eric Sorensen, Meteorologist Greg Bobos, and myself will continue to post new information throughout the duration of our first major winter storm of the 2012-2013 winter season.
This post was written by Joe Astolfi on December 19, 2012