Wheeling, W. VA (WTRF) – A complex weather system with bring a mixed bag of conditions that range from rain, snow, high winds, and Arctic air into the Ohio Valley to end the week and stay through Christmas. Here is what we know:

Weather Headlines:

The National Weather Service in Pittsburgh has multiple weather headlines for the Ohio Valley. This includes: A Wind Chill Warning, A Winter Weather Advisory, and a Wind Advisory for the tri state area.

Weather headlines across the tri-state region.

The Setup:

The center of low pressure and surface cold front is barreling its way through the Midwest.

Low pressure over Midwest will impact the Ohio Valley Friday Morning

This system will strengthen as it moves through a region favorable for strengthening as it barrels through the Central Plains and moves into the Great Lakes region. As it approaches our area, it will interact with warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico. This has provided rain showers for the Ohio Valley on Thursday.

As this system moves through, an Arctic cold front will inject the Ohio Valley with bitter cold air and a change from rain into snow early Friday morning before sunrise. The leading edge of this system could start as rain. If more rain falls, there is a higher potential for impactful flash freezing. This outcome then favors less snow

Predictor showing rain activity starting at 2 AM.

The other scenario is we experience less rain with frontal passage and see more snow.

Falling temperatures and changeover to snow.

Either outcome, the timeframe for frontal passage is expected between 2-4 AM on Friday. As the passage occurs, temperatures will likely plummet 20+ degrees in a 2 hour span. This could lead to flash freezing that could impact travelers Friday morning.

Snow totals will likely range around 1-3 inches with locally higher amount on the hilltops. Snow will likely impact the morning commute hours on Friday. Although snow is impactful, the more concerning variables will be the dropping temperatures and increase in winds after frontal passage.

Blowing snow is also a major concern that could drastically drop visibility very quickly.

After frontal passage and precip transition, temperatures will drop suddenly through the early morning and into the afternoon. Starting in the low 40’s and down into the teens by mid-morning. Do not be surprised if we are in the single digits by lunchtime. Winds will also increase in speed with gusts of 40-45 mph possible, making for dangerously cold wind chill values. These conditions start Friday afternoon through Christmas Eve.

Forecast wind chill values across our area into Friday afternoon.

Colder air at the surface and aloft will continue to keep the Ohio Valley in a frigid environment through the holiday weekend.

The upper air pattern favors Arctic air into the Ohio Valley through the holiday weekend.

With the region stuck in a frigid environment, morning temperatures for Christmas Eve and Christmas day will likely be in the single digits.

These are air temperatures and do not account for the wind. Wind chill values through Christmas Eve and Christmas day could approach 10 to 20 degrees below zero.

Impacts:

Even though snow is in the forecast, windy conditions combined with already cold temperatures are the primary concern.

Power outages are possible due to Wind gusts of 40-50 mph Friday through Saturday. This could lead to downed trees and power lines. Not a bad idea to have a fire laid in your fireplace and have emergency plans in place if this impacts you. Check on the elderly and make sure their power is working.

Winds will stay breezy Friday into Saturday leading to sub-zero wind chill factors. Please account for cold weather as you travel on Saturday and create a warm safety kit for your vehicle. Include things like: food, water, blankets, hats, gloves, scarves, and warm clothing in case you do get stuck.

Check your tire pressure before the bitter cold air moves.

As wind chills reach the dangerous category, please do not forget your pets outside. If it is too cold for you, it is too cold for them. Even with fur. Bring them indoors!