By Jeff Ray

First off, we’ll have warm temperatures today with a few storms by afternoon. We start with low clouds, mist and some fog this morning. A few passing showers will fall across the day around the few storms that do crop up. The storm threat is higher in the northwest corner of our area closer to an approaching cold front this afternoon.

NTX Today Highs_POPSNTX Today Highs_POPS1

We’ve blogged since last weekend about the cold air invasion that arrives tonight. Ahead of this cold front we’ll have a line of storms develop just as it’s getting dark. We expect brief heavy rain with this line and frequent lightning. There is a small chance of severe weather from damaging winds and hail. Here is FutureSky Forecast showing the front at the metroplex doorstep at 8pm with storms in full bloom:

NTX FutureCast

Behind this front is the coldest air of the season teamed with very strong northwest winds. You’ll likely not want to be outside late tonight when this is coming through. Look how we drop from the 60’s to the low- 50 quickly behind the front. With the strong winds the “feel like” will be even colder.

RPM 12km Temps Wide Texas RPM 12km Temps Wide TexasA

You’ll wake up Friday morning with temperatures in the 30’s with wind and occasional cold, light rain going on:

NTX FutureCastA

Notice that up in Wichita Falls over to Bowie and down to Breckenridge this precipitation is falling as sleet. This is going to be a problem for these areas as the day goes on. Here is a sequence of time frames to show where the threat of ice/sleet exists over the next couple of days. Through the day tomorrow sleet will continue to fall from a Bowie to a Stephenville line. The precipitation will start to taper off as we get into the afternoon and evening.

Icing Threat Weekend6p

Through Friday night into Saturday the light precipitation will start to pick up again. Again, the threat for sleet stays to the west of the metro area. However with temperatures hovering at and just below freezing we could start to see ice accumulation on the roads in the areas shaded in pink below; especially the bridges and overpasses.

Icing Threat Weekendb

As Saturday goes on we’ll watch the freezing line retreat to the west a little from the daytime heating. Overall, precipitation amounts will be light on Saturday until we get toward the end of the day.

Icing Threat Weekend Sat4

However, as soon the sun gets below horizon Saturday evening that sleet line is going to jump east. This is when the metro area will likely start to see that cold rain with occasional sleet change over to sleet/ice. We could get a round of moderate precipitation overnight. The freezing line will be over most of the metro area with a snow/ice mix line over our northwest corner up to Wichita Falls and the Texas panhandle.

Icing Threat WeekendSatMid

This is all setting us up the REAL WINTER STORM EVENT on Sunday. The storm system coming out of the southwest is going to move right over us on Sunday and Monday and over the pool of cold air that will be draped over Texas (the highs Saturday and Sunday are only in the 40’s)

US FutureCast4b    US FutureCast4a

This is the storm we’ve been worried about all week. We expect the precipitation to really pick up on Sunday and go into Sunday night. It’ll be cold enough for this to be a major sleet event over the metro area, likely enough to pile up on the roads.

Icing Threat WeekendNoon

This SHOULD turn over to a cold rain as we get into Monday morning. However surface temperatures will drop to around freezing around the metro area and colder in our surrounding counties. I expect that travel problems in the metro area will start to peak as we get in Sunday afternoon into Monday morning.

There is chance for an ice storm out to our west. If you have travel plans that take you to Abilene, San Angelo or Midland be aware that icing problems will start in these areas tomorrow and be around all weekend. Notice that on Sunday the ice threat shifts into our western counties. These are counties that will have already had sleet accumulate on the roads.

Ice Storm Threat Weekend Ice Storm Threat WeekendA

As always, forecasting winter precipitation and amounts is very difficult, especially more than 48 hours out. Jeff Jamison and Larry Mowry will update all of this in the afternoon. Stay tuned!