The next few days will be the coldest Iowa has seen so far this season.
The National Weather Service in the Quad Cities said a fast-moving winter storm is expected to hit east, central and northeast Iowa on Thursday morning and could bring blizzard conditions with powerful wind gusts, freezing rain and several inches of snow.
Winter weather alerts have been issued across much of Eastern Iowa and western Illinois.
In Cedar Rapids, Thursday morning may start out pleasant with temperatures in the mid-30s, said weather service meteorologist David Cousins, but that will quickly change as “a fast-moving Arctic cold front” moves into the area.
This storm, he said, will bring potentially dangerous road conditions that will last into Thursday night.
According to a winter storm watch alert, a mixture of rain, freezing rain and sleet is expected to move into Eastern Iowa between 6 and 9 a.m.
Then comes the snow, which is expected to fall for several hours starting around midmorning, Cousins said. Accumulations of 2 to 4 inches are expected in the Cedar Rapids area and 1 to 2 inches in the Iowa City area.
At the same time, Cousins said winds will pick up to roughly 25 to 35 mph, and the temperature will “rapidly drop,” creating the possibility of flash freeze conditions and slick roadways and sidewalks.
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“Anything that was wet from the rain earlier that morning will freeze,” he said. “So there will basically be a thin layer of ice underneath the snowfall.”
Wind gusts also are a safety concern, he said.
The storm is expected to bring gusts of up to 40 mph, which could create whiteout conditions.
“Significant drifting snow will be a problem through Thursday night,” the weather service said.
The weather service warned roads will become slippery and visibility may be limited in areas of blowing snow. These conditions could last into Thursday’s evening commute.
Following the storm, cold air will move into the region, bringing the lowest temperatures Iowa has seen this season. Highs will be in the single digits and lows below zero.
The low temperatures are expected to last through the weekend and into the coming week.
Cousins said the National Weather Service is tracking another possibility for light snow Saturday and recommended Iowa residents continue to check weather forecasts.
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