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Winter storm rolls in Thursday; life-threatening cold, high winds to follow

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — We will undergo a very rough temperature swing late Thursday with rain and potential accumulating snow. Then, our concern shifts toward blustery and brutally cold conditions.

Winter Storm Warnings are set to be in effect from 3 PM EST Thursday until Friday evening. Blizzard Warnings are also set to be in effect farther north from 4 PM EST Thursday until 7 AM EST Saturday.

There will also be Wind Chill Warnings and Watches in place from after sunset Thursday until Friday afternoon. There is a good chance we see an expansion of wind chill alerts into central Indiana.

Thursday: As we go throughout the first half of our Thursday, we’ll see scattered light rain move across the state.

However, conditions will rapidly and substantially deteriorate by Thursday evening as we make a fast changeover to snow with temperatures tumbling from the 30s and 40s to the single digits in a matter of 3-5 hours. Snow will be wet and heavy to start before it gradually transitions to more powdery snow. Snowfall rates will be from 1-2 inches per hour, which will cause very low visibility.

In tandem with the snow, a flash freeze will be in the process of occurring due to the rapid temperature drop. Thus, roads will quickly become slick. Wind gusts will also rise to 25-30 mph by Thursday night.

Friday: Thursday night will only be the beginning to what will be a shock to the system with the cold that’s set to have a big bite to it. Friday morning is when we work in life-threatening wind chills and very strong winds. These brutal conditions will stick with us throughout the entire day as wind chill values will be down to 20 below zero to 30 below zero. Frostbite and hypothermia will occur in as little as five minutes with exposed skin.

Snow will become more scattered for Friday, but due to the high winds, expect blowing/drifting snow. This could lead way to blizzard conditions, and is why blizzard warnings are not out of the question for central Indiana. Roads will also be icy in spots. Power outages are also a concern as well.

All in all, travel impacts will be major from Thursday night into Friday night. Please avoid any unnecessary travel on Friday, but if you do have to go out, bring some extra warm layers, food, and water just in case an emergency happens.

Highs could potentially fail to get above zero. We could even have a record cold high for Friday, and that record is 1 degree set back in 1983. Overall, this will be the coldest air we’ve dealt with since late January 2019.

SNOW POTENTIAL: Current thinking on snow totals has changed a little bit. Most areas along I-70 and northwest from the Indy-Muncie line toward Lafayette-Kokomo could see from 3-6 inches of snow. Southern Indiana also could see a couple of inches, as well. The highest totals remain much farther north.

8-Day Forecast: The nail-biting cold is expected to keep rearing its ugly head throughout our Christmas Eve on Saturday. Areas of blowing snow will once again occur. Highs won’t be much better on Saturday with numbers still stuck in the single digits. Wind gusts stay on the lofty side, up to 30-40 mph, with wind chill values as low as 10 below zero to 20 degrees below zero. Christmas Day is shaping up to be not only the coldest Christmas in over 40 years, but one of the coldest on record. Cold air will stick with us going into next week, but we look to eventually try to usher in some sort of temperature rebound.