Outlook on winter: Snow, sleet to slam Valley | News, Sports, Jobs

Cole Smith, a YSU student, left, and his girlfriend Emily Emch, a December graduate of YSU, came to Lanterman’s Mill in Mill Creek Park Tuesday to see if they could see otters playing and eating fish on the ice beneath the falls…They didn’t see the otters but a Facebook post showed a photo of the otters at the falls Monday…by R. Michael Semple

A huge swath of the United States braced for a major winter storm that is expected to hit the Mahoning Valley sometime tonight.

Airlines had canceled more than 800 flights in the U.S. scheduled for today, the flight tracking service FlightAware.com showed, including many in St. Louis and Chicago.

The National Weather Service is Cleveland reports a winter storm watch is in effect from this evening to Friday morning for the Mahoning Valley. Heavy mixed precipitation is possible. Total snow accumulations of 5 to 10 inches and ice accumulations of a light glaze also is possible.

Portions of north central and northeast Ohio will be affected from this evening through Friday morning.

Weather service officials said travel could be very difficult with areas of blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility. The hazardous conditions could impact the morning or evening commute, officials said

In his weather forecast, Eric Wilhelm, meteorologist with WFMJ-TV, said rain is expected this evening before a cold front moves into the area after midnight into early Thursday.

“There will be no wintry concerns during the daylight hours Wednesday. After midnight the cold front pushes in, and we will see a transition from liquid precipitation to freezing rain especially south of Interstate 80. There will be some sleet and some wet snow mixed in at times,” Wilhelm said.

He said when people get up Thursday morning, snow, sleet and some freezing rain will make traveling difficult.

“For many of us it will be a sloppy mix throughout the day,” Wilhelm said adding that extreme cold conditions will follow with snow tapering off.

Wilhelm predicts the area will see 3 to 6 inches of snow Thursday and into Friday.

The NWS reports the heaviest mixed precipitation is expected on Thursday. Snowfall rates may exceed 1 inch per hour at times.

The weather service predicted a 60 percent chance of rain locally mostly after 5 p.m. today after a high temperature is near 42.

Late today and into early Thursday, there will be 100 percent chance of rain and snow . New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

Thursday night will see snow and sleet, becoming all snow after 7 p.m. Chance of precipitation is 100 percent. New snow and sleet accumulation of 2 to 4 inches are possible.

Friday a chance of snow, mainly before 1 p.m, is forecast with mostly cloudy skies and a high temperature near 23. Chance of precipitation is 30 percent with new snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

Winter storm watches and warnings covered a wide swath of the country from El Paso, Texas, through the Midwest and parts of the Northeast to Burlington, Vermont. The storm follows a vicious nor’easter last weekend that brought blizzard conditions to many parts of the East Coast.

“It will be a very messy system and will make travel very difficult,” said Marty Rausch, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in College Park, Maryland.

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