DANVILLE — Local residents who want a white Christmas this year might have to deal with extra winter precipitation as well.
Early forecasts are warning for potentially two bouts of freezing rain for Vermilion County and east central Illinois in the coming days as a weather system moves northeast from the Oklahoma area through Illinois and Indiana.
Rick Harper, severe weather manager for the Vermilion County Emergency Management Agency, said Wednesday afternoon there are preliminary indications of a mix of rain and freezing rain descending locally on Friday night.
The freezing rain is expected to reappear again Saturday, once again mixed with rain. Harper said daytime temperatures on Saturday should keep the potential for freezing rain at bay for this area until Saturday night.
“All of this, of course, is subject to change if the storm path varies or temps fall faster than expected,” Harper said, noting the area’s biggest threat appears to be Friday night’s precipitation.
He indicated it appears the main threat for a major ice storm will remain to the north and west of the area, with cities stretching from Springfield to Bloomington to Kankakee in the crosshairs as of Wednesday’s forecasts.
Locally, rains are forecast to begin today and as temperatures increase to around 44 degrees during the day and as high as 40 degrees overnight and into Friday. The ice concern, according to Harper, comes Friday night. Temperatures then are forecast to drop to around 30 degrees, according to the National Weather Service in Lincoln.
Another round of snow is still forecast to emerge from the weather on Sunday, but at this point only 2 inches or less is expected in Vermilion County and east central Illinois, Harper said.
Across the state and around the nation, the winter weather system is expected to create poor travel conditions Friday night into Saturday from Illinois across to Ohio and the East Coast.
The latest round of winter weather comes on the heels of the state’s first taste of serious snowfall since 2010. Snowfall last Friday and Saturday ranged from 6.5 inches in southern Vermilion County to 9 inches on the western edge of the county and a little more than 8 inches in Danville.
For the month, Vermilion County has 10.1 inches of snow for the month of December, a little less than double the average snowfall for the month.
The snow, however, could lead to problems as melting combines with the rainfall totals for the weekend. National Weather Service estimates released Wednesday morning indicated the Vermilion County area could receive as much as 2.5 to 3 inches of rain.
The resulting excess of water could cause ponding in some areas as well as minor flooding in central Illinois, according to the National Weather Service.