It sure didn’t feel like late February yesterday after record breaking highs in the 70s for much of the state. All of that is coming to a crashing end today as a strong cold front is pushing across the state. Temperatures will fall 20+ degrees through the afternoon, compared to early morning temperatures in the 60s. Expect temperatures in the lower 40s by late afternoon. Rain will transition to freezing rain this evening.
Colder air will continue to rush in at the surface through the evening, changing rain to freezing rain. Just aloft, temperatures will be warm enough to support rain, but as the rain falls through the cold layer, it will cool down and over time, surfaces will fall below freezing. While initially, the wet surfaces will keep any freezing rain from accumulating, this will gradually change as we head into the evening and overnight hours as temperatures continue to fall into the upper 20s.
This particular setup is tricky to forecast as we have an active changeover in precipitation in many areas as precipitation is ongoing. Additionally, models cannot account for this well and they tend to overdo ice accumulation forecasts. Add to the mix that any slight variation in temperatures aloft could impact the precipitation type altogether.
Let’s start with our Futurecast, which starts at 2 PM today and runs through 3 PM Thursday:
Looks like a significant freezing rain event, doesn’t it? Again, the initial few hours or so of freezing rain will likely not accumulate any ice as surfaces will already be wet. Over time, especially overnight Wednesday and early Thursday, this will change as temperatures remain below freezing. Treated surfaces look to be ok, with little ice accumulation. Untreated and elevated surfaces will be icy.
So, how much ice?
That’s the tricky part. Some models go extreme with over a half inch of ice across parts of north central Ohio. Others are not so extreme. Our forecast calls for anywhere from 0.10” to as much as 0.30” of ice. It appears a widespread 0.10” to 0.20” is quite possible across the highlighted area below, and there could also be several spots that see closer to 0.30” of ice. We also cannot rule out isolated higher totals in spots, especially across western Ohio. Freezing rain will gradually come to an end by early Thursday afternoon, with perhaps some freezing drizzle in spots here and there through early afternoon.
Areas outside of the highlighted area could still see some ice, with a light glaze possible in spots. North of the highlighted area, some snow and possibly sleet is possible but accumulations will remain under 1 inch. South of the highlighted area, just rain is expected.
Build The Ark!
After that, you may want to ready the boat. A literal wall of rain will move through the state from Friday through Sunday and will bring quite a bit of water to the state. With saturated grounds and flooding already occurring in areas, this additional rain will quickly ramp up flooding in many areas. Significant flooding is possible in some areas as well.
More significant flooding is possible along the Ohio River, generally anywhere along the river as the entire basin is going to receive quite a bit of rainfall. Areas closer to Cincinnati could see some of the worst flooding. Other rivers in the state will likely see flooding, along with smaller creeks and streams, which are already running high or currently in flood stage. Lowland areas and areas with poor drainage will also see ponding of water and flooding.
Here’s the latest rainfall forecast:
If you live in a flood prone area, be prepared for flooding now! Move any valuables to the highest level of your home and be prepared to evacuate if flood waters threaten your home or look to impact your evacuation route. Do not wait until it’s too late to leave. And remember – TURN AROUND – DON’T DROWN! NEVER drive through a flooded roadway! There is no way to tell how deep the water is or if the road is even intact. Seek an alternate route.