Messy on Thursday as temperatures free-fall

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) - A winter storm will bring our part of Iowa rain, a bit of snow, wind, and a temperature crash. All these will make for a messy day of weather on Thursday.

Temperatures at daybreak will be around 40 degrees. However, as the cold front blasts across the state, our temperature will go into a free-fall. Our expectations Wednesday afternoon are that the front should reach Waterloo by 8 a.m., Cedar Rapids around 9 a.m., and Dubuque and Iowa City around 10 a.m. Temperatures could drop by as much as 20 degrees in just a few hours and should be in the teens over the vast majority of eastern Iowa by early afternoon.

A “flash freeze” is a very real possibility. Temperatures will fall so fast that whatever moisture is on untreated roads and sidewalks will turn to ice very quickly. Be aware that getting around at lunchtime and the evening commute may be tricky because of the risk of icing. Keep yourself updated with the latest road conditions from the Iowa DOT. Also remember that those apply to the main highways; residential streets and rural roads may be different.

Scattered rain showers are likely later Wednesday night into Thursday morning. Rainfall totals should be in the neighborhood of around a tenth of an inch. As temperatures plummet mid-morning, rain will change over to snow. For most of us, amounts should be a coating to less than an inch, but areas from Waterloo toward Charles City should pick up an inch or two. Higher amounts are likely near I-35. The bulk of the accumulating snow will fall from around Mason City toward Rochester, Minnesota. Precipitation will move away during the early afternoon.

As the front passes and temperatures begin to fall, the wind will suddenly pick up. Sustained northwest winds of 20 to 30 mph are likely, and gusts to 40 mph are possible. The highest gusts will most likely happen in the morning, but strong winds are expected to last into the afternoon. Blowing snow and low visibility will be a problem where a couple of inches of snow falls.