Jennifer Edwards Baker reports:
Wet, slushy snow is falling across Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky as the first winter storm of the new year arrives.
A winter storm warning is in effect until 7 p.m. for all of Butler, Hamilton, Clermont and Warren counties. That’s an upgrade from the National Weather Service in Wilmington, where meteorologists previously issued a winter weather advisory for those areas.
Anywhere from 3-5 inches of snow will fall by tonight, up from 2-4 inches originally predicted.
Areas south of the Ohio River in Northern Kentucky remain under a winter storm advisory with 2-3 inches of snow expected.
About 3.5 inches already accumulated by 8 a.m. in northern Hamilton County and the northern suburbs of Butler and Warren counties, the weather service said. South of the Ohio River, only 0.8 inches have fallen so far at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.
The snow won’t completely stop until 7 p.m., but the heaviest will arrive by 2 p.m.
Travel difficulties could develop with reduced visibilities as the snow accumulates and winds increase from 10 mph to 20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph, the weather service advises. That could lead to blowing and drifting snow this afternoon and evening.
Several schools are closed or operating on delays. Lakota, McAuleyHigh School, the College of Mount St. Joseph and Batavia schools shut down.
While other schools are open, some of those are not running buses, including Northwest and Princeton in Hamilton County and Talawanda and Fairfield in Butler County.
The new year is off to a snowy start. So far this winter, 12.8 inches of snow has been recorded at the airport. Most winters, we see 22.1 inches total.
December wound up tying with 2004 for the 7th snowiest December on record, said meteorologist Mike Kurz.
As the storm passes through tonight, temperatures will plummet. Wind chills will bottom out below zero by early Friday thanks for a blast of bitterly cold, arctic air from Canada.
Temperatures this morning are still about average for this time of year at 33 degrees. That will be our high for the day.
The mercury will dip to 32 later this morning before slipping into the low 20s this afternoon.
The low tonight will fall to 10 degrees with wind chills plunging to about -2 by sunrise Friday.
Friday’s high will only make into the low 20s with wind chills in the teens and single digits. It will be mostly sunny.
Friday night will fall to 15 degrees with wind chills again in the single digits to near or just below zero.
More snow could fly this weekend. It will be mostly sunny Saturday with the high reaching 37 degrees, but there’s a 60 percent chance for snow Saturday night and early Sunday. The low will be 29 degrees.
The snow could switch to a wintry mix of rain and snow after 3 p.m. Sunday. The high will make it up to near 40 degrees.
But by Sunday night, another round of arctic air will push down again from Canada. This time, temperatures will fall to our lowest in three years, according to the weather service.
Along with the cold, there’s a 90 percent chance for snow Sunday night.
It’s too soon to say for sure how much snow could fall with that system, Kurz said.
The overnight low will fall to 12 degrees with wind chills in the single digits.
There’s a 30 percent chance of snow showers Monday as the air turns bitterly cold. The high will only make it up to 14 degrees with single digit wind chills.
Monday night will be even lower, bottoming out around -5. Wind chills could get down to -20 by sunrise Tuesday. Later, it will be sunny Tuesday but the high will only eek up to 7 degrees with wind chills remaining below zero, Kurz said.
The record low for Tuesday’s Jan. 7 date is -9 in 1912, he said. Wind chills on that date were not available.
Tuesday night’s low will be 0 with more subzero wind chills by daybreak Wednesday.
The record low for Wednesday is -10 degrees in 1968. Wind chills were not available on that date.
While it remains unlikely we will break those cold records, we will come close.
And the last time our region saw temperatures this low was -8 on Jan. 22, 2011, Kurz said.