Holiday Travel Trouble

Dec. 21, 2016: Welcome to the first day of Winter!  The Winter Solstice occurred at 4:44 am this morning, officially kicking off the season for the Northern Hemisphere. Right on time, we have to deal with a little winter weather during the holiday weekend.

ROUND 1: Friday evening

Think back to last Friday, and how messy the roads were at times. We should see something similar play out: light (a.k.a. low) snow totals, but bad timing for going home to work/hitting the road for the holiday.


A quick moving area of low pressure in the upper atmosphere will brew up a round of light snow showers, starting Friday afternoon. By the evening rush, 1″ of snow may be on the ground, making roads slick. The snow showers should continue into the early overnight hours, then end by very early Saturday morning. In total, 1″ to 2″ of snow is in the forecast for our area, with lesser amounts to the south, and higher amounts to the north, especially north of Madison, WI.


While the amounts don’t seem that daunting, the evening drive home or out of town will be impacted like it was last Friday. Slick roads means slower or difficult travel ahead of the holiday weekend.

ROUND 2: Sunday (Christmas Day)

A very-well defined area of low pressure swings up from the south, bringing with is a lot of moisture. This time around, we will be warm enough for a rain-maker instead of a snow storm!

gfs weekend outlook

A couple of things to watch out for with this system- as temperatures hover near freezing in the early morning, freezing rain and icy roads are possible. Temperatures should warm quickly during the day and get rid of the icy roads, but if you are out early, be careful. The rain should pick up by the afternoon, and soak the area throughout the evening and night. We may see up to 1/2″ of rain! This will cause wet to even flooded roads between the rainfall and melting snow, so be aware of that. Winds may gust up to 30 mph with this system during Christmas evening and night, so travel may be difficult during the evening, especially after sunset. Foggy conditions during the rain may not help either. The wet weather should wrap up by Monday morning.

holiday travel

In both cases, getting on the road early may be key, especially Friday. If you can leave a half day early, it may be wise to do so, since hitting the road Friday afternoon means quiet travel weather for a while. On Sunday, wet and foggy roads means taking is slower to get home, so take your time and plan ahead.  Either way, use common sense and leave plenty of space between you and the vehicles around you, have an emergency kit in your car, and turn on your headlights. Safe travels this weekend, everyone!




Posted under weather

This post was written by Alex Kirchner on December 21, 2016

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