The potential for Freezing Rain “slips” into the forecast


Most of us can handle driving on snow covered roads. After all, this is Idaho! But, when it comes to “freezing rain”, just about anyone can have a slippery commute. Even walking to your mailbox can be a dangerous experience. For the first time this winter season, freezing rain could move into the Treasure Valley.

With high temperatures struggling to break out of the 20’s the roads, sidewalks and driveways are already frozen. This sets the foundation for accumulating ice. Here’s the scenario I’m little concerned about; the next storm that rolls into western Idaho has warm air in the mid-levels. Were it not for the inversion and cold air trapped at the surface, we would likely be seeing a valley rain and mountain snow event.

At first, as the storm moves in late Thursday and early Friday, the rain that falls out of the storm will fall through the cold air on the valley floor generating the likelihood for snow. But, as the rain continues to fall, it gradually warms the air until the snow changes over to rain. The only problem is that the ground is still frozen. So when the rain hits the frozen ground it freezes. With this kind of scenario you can easily see a coating of ice that gets thicker and thicker until the ground slowly warms.

Right now, there is only a “chance” for freezing rain on the valley floor. It’s something we’ll be watching very closely. On the bright side, this storm should generate an additional 3-6” of snow at our ski resorts by the end of the day Friday. Some higher elevations could see 6-12” of snow. The question is, what exactly will be the freezing level? I’m hoping the storm will be cold enough to make snow at the base of the resorts. Stay tuned, we’ll know more on Thursday.

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