AccuWeather.com reports several storm systems will throw rounds of snow over portions of the Midwest into the weekend.
The extent of slippery travel will depend on the time of day the snow hits particular locations. Timing is everything for late-season snowfall, especially when it comes to accumulating on roads and sidewalks. The strengthening sun warms road surfaces during the day, even when not visible, so that it has to snow very hard to accumulate from midday through the afternoon.
The effect of the sun can also warm the lower atmosphere enough to bring a change to rain. However, the nights are still long enough to allow pavement and concrete to cool for even light snow to cause slush and icy conditions.
A pocket of very cold air in the upper levels of the atmosphere triggered flurries and snow squalls over portions of the Great Lakes and the Ohio Valley Tuesday night into Wednesday. The snow came at the ideal time to cause trouble on the roads around Detroit, Cincinnati and other locations in the Midwest. The snow showers were swinging into the Appalachians Wednesday.
Three additional systems are forecast to roll across the Midwest into the weekend. Below is a general synopsis of the storm systems.
Spanning Wednesday evening into Thursday night, a swath of snow and/or wintry mix will sweep from northwest to southeast reaching across portions of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky.
The cities of Minneapolis, Madison and Milwaukee, Wis., Chicago and Indianapolis are in the path of this system. However, areas from northern Minnesota to central Wisconsin are most likely to have slippery spots with all or part of the storm occurring later Wednesday night or first thing Thursday morning. For most areas farther southeast, the snow will tend to melt as it falls on roads.
A few locations in eastern Kentucky into the southern Appalachians could have enough snow to cover the ground Thursday night.
Spanning Thursday evening into Friday night, another swath of snow and/or wintry mix will take a southeastern path but will likely track a few hundred miles farther north than the midweek system. This system is also likely to pack heavier precipitation and a greater chance of a general swath of a few inches of snow.
The late-week snow swath will run from northeastern North Dakota and northern Minnesota to northern Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and a large part of the Lower Peninsula ofMichigan to Southwest Ontario.
The cities of Fargo, N.D., International Falls, Minn., Green Bay, Wis., Traverse City and Detroit, Mich., and London, Ontario, are in the path of the snow. Friday morning commuters around Fargo and International Falls could have slippery conditions. Folks out and about around Detroit first thing Saturday morning could also face travel delays.
The third system will bring snow and/or a wintry mix farther south in more of a west to east swath affecting part of the central Plains to part of the northern Ohio Valley states during Sunday. While the track of the accumulating snow is very uncertain at this time, it could run along part of I-80 over the Plains and along I-70 east of the Mississippi River.
A larger and stronger storm is still in the works for early next week for the northern Plains and the Midwest. Exactly which areas are most likely to have heavy snow, heavy rain, thunderstorms, wind or all of these conditions will be detailed in the coming days on AccuWeather.com.
The same series of storm systems will also impact areas in the East.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was written by Alex Sosnowski, expert senior meteorologist for AccuWeather.com.