NEW DETAILS: Winter storm watch, warning: Heavy ice, snow mix on the way

A winter storm this week could bring a heavy ice accumulation from freezing rain and several inches of snow as temperature drops could cause dangerous driving conditions and power outages.

A Winter Storm Watch will be in effect from 9 p.m. Wednesday until 7 a.m. Friday for Butler, Clark, Greene, Montgomery and Warren counties, issued by the National Weather Service in Wilmington. The watch calls for possible accumulations of 4 to 7 inches of snow and one-tenth to four-tenths of an inch of ice.

A Winter Storm Warning takes effect at 1 p.m. Wednesday for Darke County and 5 p.m. Wednesday for Champaign, Miami and Preble counties and lasts through 7 a.m. Friday. The warning calls for heavy mixed precipitation that could bring possible accumulations of 6 to 12 inches of snow and one-tenth inch of ice, according to the NWS.

One area college already on Monday announced plans for virtual operations “out of an abundance of caution.” Clark State College in Springfield will move to remote learning for Wednesday through Friday, President Jo Alice Blondin said. “In anticipation of inclement weather … I wanted to be proactive and assist faculty, staff and students with planning regarding these days.”

Today will be the proverbial calm before the storm. Above-normal temperatures reached 59 in Dayton, 61 in Cincinnati and 51 in Columbus. The cloud coverage will increase tonight, which will have an overnight low in the upper 30s to lower 40s.

Rain is expected to begin Wednesday morning — mainly after 9 a.m. in the Dayton area and after 7 a.m. in the Cincinnati area — with coverage increasing throughout the afternoon and the high temperature around 45 degrees.

“It’s going to be raining on Wednesday and then after that, it’s not until late Wednesday evening, Wednesday night we’re going to see colder air moving in,” said meteorologist Brian Coniglio with the NWS in Wilmington.

For the counties in the warning, a brief wintry mix Wednesday afternoon will be followed by snow.

For counties in the watch area, it is anticipated that around midnight, the rain will change over to freezing rain or sleet as the temperature drops, accompanied by gusty winds, he said. This will lead to hazardous driving conditions as well as tree damage and electric outages as branches snap and fall into power lines.

Forecast models show that more sleet than freezing rain is expected during the wintry mix, but even a couple degrees difference in temperature can alter that outcome, the NWS said.

“It’s going to continue through most of Thursday, and then snow Thursday night and ending on Friday morning,” Coniglio said.

“The result of that is going to be a winter precipitation that is going to be a problem: quarter-inch of ice or more in Dayton by Thursday evening, maybe a few inches of snow following that before it ends,” he said.

An arctic air mass will build in Friday, which will last through the weekend.

Friday’s high will hit only the lower to mid-20s with partly to mostly cloudy skies for much of the day after the snow clears out. The overnight low is expected to be below zero with dangerous wind chills.

The forecast calls for sunshine and a high in the mid-20s for Saturday, then mostly sunny skies and 35 degrees on Sunday.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

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