5 P.M. Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022
Forecast models for tomorrow’s ice storm are very close, but that still doesn’t clarify the situation too much. Conditions that come together to produce freezing rain are squeezed into a very small box. Conditions favoring sleet are also narrowly defined, but not nearly as much as for freezing rain. So, we’re in the difficult situation of trying to figure out the timing when freezing rain mixes with, and then changes to, sleet. A few hours either way will make a big difference in the result. In general, the longer the freezing rain continues, the better the result for us.
So, here’s my attempt to play “model whisperer” to come up with a forecast. Rain will continue off and on tonight. Temperatures will remain in the 40’s until about 2 A.M. then drop into the lower 30’s by daybreak. Temperatures should remain in the lower 30’s until mid afternoon. Freezing rain will mix with rain during the morning. This will have little or no impact on morning travel. Sleet will begin to enter the mix shortly after Noon. After 2 P.M. sleet will become the dominate precipitation through about 7 P.M. Then, a little light snow/flurries will mix in as precipitation diminishes overnight.
IF – and I do mean IF – the above scenario is essentially what actually happens, this is what will result. The freezing rain may accumulate up to a quarter-inch of ice on tree limbs, power lines, etc. but that amount doesn’t cause much damage. Roadways will remain wet for the most part and driving should remain ice-free through early afternoon. Sleet will ice the roads quickly and accumulations could amount to 1″-2″ by 6 P.M. Evening rush hour will be very difficult.
By Friday morning temperatures will have dropped into the low to mid 20’s and we’ll have that 1″- 2″ coating of sleet with a small topping of snow.
NOTE: The National Weather Service is really going gung-ho with the icing forecast. The top edge of their forecast is greater than one half inch of ice accumulation. That kind of ice accumulation would be highly destructive. A large part of our area would be without power due to downed power lines. Tree damage would be a widespread.