Strong winter storm forecast for Tuesday night into Wednesday

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR) - The strongest winter storm of the season to affect the FOX 2 viewing area is taking shape for late Tuesday night into Wednesday.

This system will bring the potential for heavy rain, heavy snow, and strong potentially damaging wind gusts during the day Wednesday. Confidence in a major storm system affecting our region is high. However, confidence in the finer details of how much snow and where remains low to moderate at this time. So, expect tweaks and changes as we get closer to the event.

A strong winter storm will be impacting much of our area late Tuesday night and Wednesday. But, "strong winter storm" does NOT necessarily mean snow, or at least not all snow. The combination of rain, snow and strong winds will combine to make this a potentially high impact event.

Cloud temperatures will be more than cold enough to generate snow. The question is the near surface air that will be in the middle 30's for much of the event. What should start as a cold rain will mix with and then change to heavy wet snow across most of our viewing area. Wet snow should be mixed with rain, ending by late Wednesday afternoon.

The forecast calls for several inches of accumulation across much of the viewing area. A narrow band of enhanced snow of at least 4" and possibly quite a bit more. The snow should be centered on a line from near Ironton, MO up to Park Hills, then northeast along the Kaskaskia River in Illinois through Carlyle Lake and up to Vandalia and Effingham. Much of the accumulation will be on grassy surfaces. However, due to the heavy nature of the snowfall, slush build up on roads is also expected.

As I mentioned, wind will be a major factor with this storm. Sustained winds of 35-40 mph and some gusts pushing 50 mph quite possible during the day Wednesday.

The storm track and forecast amounts will continue to get refined as the storm comes into better focus over the next two days. Stay tuned for further updates.

Check the latest weather conditions here: