Winter begins today! It officially starts at 4:48 p.m. The transition to the winter season is coming hand in hand with a winter storm that will bring us major impacts ahead of the Christmas holiday.

Wednesday will be our last quiet day before these changes start taking place. This is your last opportunity to get any of your last minute shopping done or make changes to your travel plans. Starting Thursday, things will turn messy and very cold. Wednesday will be much like Tuesday with temperatures during the afternoon rising to the low 40s.

A Winter Storm Watch now covers most of the state of Indiana and will go in effect at 4 p.m. on Thursday and extends through 7 a.m. Saturday. This is earlier than previously projected. Thursday morning will start off with a few light showers and possibly some freezing drizzle predawn. Temperatures will be hovering right around the freezing mark, so areas like bridges and overpasses could become slick. Temperatures rising through the morning means we will see all rain from the late morning through the early afternoon.

Thursday afternoon is when we will see a big transition to winter weather. Arctic air will be sweeping into the state by late Thursday afternoon. Temperatures will plummet quickly and we will see a quick change to snow. However, areas that received rain could end up flash-freezing due to the quick temperature drop.

Travel on Thursday is looking VERY messy. Heavy snow is expected Thursday evening into early Friday morning. Winds will be whipping out of the west with gusts at 40 to 60 mph. This could create near white-out conditions.

The snow is expected to wind down early Friday morning with a few additional pockets of snow possible through the day. Totals at this time are still looking to around 4″ or more area wide. The track of this storm can significantly change these totals, so stay tuned for updates as we get new data. Regardless of the snow amounts, travel Thursday evening and Friday will be hazardous.

Dangerously cold air accompanies this storm system. Temperatures will plunge from the low 40s Thursday afternoon to ZERO degrees by early Friday morning. With the very gusty winds, wind chills will be in the range of -20° to -30°. This is very dangerous and could cause frost bite to exposed skin in a matter of minutes. Don’t forget your pets in these conditions. It will be too cold for them to stay outside.

We start to wind down into Christmas but it will still be very cold. A few additional snow showers are possible Saturday but the bigger impact will be the temperature. Wind chills Christmas Eve will be near -20° at times and staying below zero on through Christmas Day.