As multiple disturbances move in from the West, leading to snow in the Northern Tier and flooding rains across much of the East, in between will be the battle between the warm and cold air. Based on the forecast atmospheric profile, the setup is conducive for freezing rain, and days of it for some areas.
With freezing rain, you need a thick layer of warm air aloft and a thin layer of freezing temperatures at the surface. This allows for snowflakes to melt into raindrops as they fall from the clouds, then once they hit the ground, those raindrops will freeze on contact, therefore coating all surfaces in ice. Below, we have a side-by-side comparison of the 850 millibar temperatures, which is at about 1000 feet in altitude, and the surface temperatures for midday Monday. We then outlined where freezing rain is possible in the black on both maps. This is where there are freezing temperatures at the surface but above-freezing temperatures at 850 millibars. Of course it all depends on whether precipitation will move through this prime air mass, and in this case it will.
So on Monday, freezing rain is possible from eastern Nebraska through central Iowa and into southern Wisconsin. Surrounding areas may deal with brief icing as well, but this is where freezing rain is the likeliest. This precipitation type will persist through much of the day on Monday. Overnight Monday, icing conditions can be expected in the same exact areas as during the day on Monday, although more of Wisconsin and even northern Michigan may experience periods of this light, freezing rain. In this event, much of this freezing rain will be in the form of showers instead of a widespread, steady rain, which is some good news, but ice is ice and this is a serious, dangerous threat,
On Tuesday, the threat will continue as the freezing rain moves a bit to the south and east. During the day, there is the chance for freezing rain from central Oklahoma through much of Missouri and Nebraska and into portions of Iowa and Wisconsin. The Upper Peninsula of Michigan may experience freezing rain as well. Then Tuesday night, the freezing rain will take a big jog to the east as the precipitation becomes more focused. Freezing rain is possible from the Chicago area through the St. Louis area and into southern Missouri.
By Wednesday, freezing rain should come to an end as warmer air intrudes at all levels of the atmosphere. Meanwhile to the south and west, freezing rain will continue to break out in portions of the Southern Plains, however. We’re especially honing in on central Oklahoma into central Kansas and near the Texas Panhandle. It’s too early to talk details about this freezing rain risk just because this precipitation type is super difficult to predict, but we want to give you the early warning on this possibility.
From Wednesday night through Friday, a few more pockets of freezing rain is possible in parts of the Central US, but it is not guaranteed or certain. If another update permits, we’ll have details on the potential freezing rain for the latter half of this week.