Snowfall totals increase, roadways turn hazardous amid flash freeze

The ‘bomb cyclone’ will bring dangerous cold and high winds.
Published: Dec. 20, 2022 at 11:29 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 22, 2022 at 2:35 PM EST
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Live updates from FOX19 meteorologists here. Full timeline below.

11:45 p.m.: Hamilton County is under a Level 2 Snow Emergency. Only essential travel is advised. No vehicles can be parked on any county road.

11 p.m.: Hamilton County and Butler County are under Level 1 Snow Alerts.

Boone County is under a Level 2 Snow Emergency. Road conditions are extremely hazardous due to accumulated or blowing snow, and roadways may be icy. Only essential travel is advised. No vehicles can be parked on any county road.

The Cincinnati Police Department is operating under Accident Reporting Procedures, which means that during severe weather where vehicles are drivable and there are no injuries, drivers should go to the closest police district to file a report.

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10:28 p.m.: Snow is beginning to accumulate in Cincinnati.

Cincinnati police say all roads leading to Mt. Adams are currently closed.

Traffic cameras across the Tri-State show heavy snowfall on the roads and highways. Residents are being urged to stay home.

9:50 p.m.: We’re riding the front right now. The temperature difference from one end of the Tri-State to the other is as high as 42 degrees.

Heavy snow is falling on around half of the Tri-State.

UPDATE: 8:50 p.m.: Snow has begun to fall in the western regions of our Ohio viewing area including Oxford and Hamilton in Butler County.

Heavy bands of snow are moving eastward into Hamilton County. Winds are gusting at 30 mph.

The Indiana Department of Transportation warns of black ice on I-74.

Temps are falling about one degree every 10 minutes.

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UPDATE 7:45 p.m.: Snow has begun to fall in southeast Indiana. FOX19 Chief Meteorologist Steve Hostmeyer says we are likely to get more snow than the original forecast models showed.

We are now expecting 4-6″ with higher amounts in some areas. The model will continue to evolve throughout the evening.

Conditions are rapidly deteriorating as a band of snow sets up from western Ohio into southeast Indiana. Temperatures are plummeting, and wind gusts are reported at 30mph.

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[Closings and Delays]

CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Rain is changing to snow across the area as of 8 p.m.

In Cincinnati, the changeover will be by 10 p.m. and east of Cincinnati between 10-11 p.m. Roads will be icy as a layer of rain will freeze quickly. Snow will then pile on top of the icy glaze. That will make travel very difficult.

A Winter Storm Warning and Wind Chill Warning are in effect for every county in the FOX19 viewing area.

SUMMARY:

  • Temperatures will begin to fall after 7 p.m. before plunging as much as 35 degrees in a matter of hours overnight.
  • 4-6″ inches of snowfall are expected with higher amounts in the northwest parts of the region and lower amounts in the southeast.
  • Travel will be dangerous Friday due to frozen rain and continued subzero temperatures.

Snow ends by 4 a.m. Friday but the winds will pickup creating blowing and drifting snow and very low visibility. This is the worst time to be on the roads as crews will be busy treating the roads and clearing the snow.

National meteorologists are warning of a “bomb cyclone” in the Great Lakes and Midwest. The event occurs when atmospheric pressure drops very quickly in a strong storm, stirring up blizzard conditions including heavy winds and snow.

The arctic front spans from Wyoming to Texas.

Snow squalls are expected in the Tri-State as the front moves through the region Thursday after 8 p.m. Squalls occur when snow falls or blows around such that visibility is limited to a quarter-mile or less.

Wind gusts of up to 50mph are also expected in parts of the Tri-State. Damage is possible to trees and power lines, leading to power outages.

A 35-degree temperature drop—a “flash freeze”—is expected overnight into Friday morning, from 41 degrees at 7 p.m. to single-digits by 1 a.m.

The Tri-State has experienced flash freezes of 35 degrees just three times since 1948, according to NWS data. Most recently, the region experienced a 36-degree drop overnight on Jan. 29, 2008.

Roads will turn to sheets of ice. Pretreating streets is not possible since the rain will just wash it away. Once ice forms, it will be there for several days.

Wind chill temperatures will be as low as -27 degrees Friday at 7 a.m. Real temperatures will bottom out at -3 degrees.

Saturday morning will be the first time they are expected to crest above freezing. [Graph]

RELATED | Could the Ohio River freeze over this weekend?

FOX19 NOW First Alert Weather Days will be in effect from 5 p.m. Thursday until 5 p.m. Sunday on Christmas Day.

After a very cold Christmas holiday weekend, temperatures early next week will slowly rebound with daytime highs in the 20s and then low 30s.

State of Emergency

Kentucky is under a state of emergency, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Wednesday.

“Current projections expect temperatures will not warm above freezing until at least Monday,” he warned.

He urged residents during a news conference to stay off roads and have a cold weather safety kit including backup heating sources.

He activated the state’s price gouging laws “to make sure shovels, ice and other necessary supplies are not increased in price in a way that would harm Kentuckians,” Beshear said.

He also encouraged residents to check in on one another over the long Christmas holiday weekend.

“We’ve been through too many natural disasters,” Beshear said. “We’ve been through too much, and we’ve lost far too many people.”

Travel

The combination of rain, snow, ice and high winds falling to -35 presents a challenge for road crews.

Ohio Department of Transportation Press Secretary Matt Bruning says even though crews can’t pretreat roads, they will be staged along highways so they are ready to start treating as soon as the snow begins.

When temps fall below 20 degrees, salt becomes less effective.

ODOT can add other chemicals or even beet juice in with the salt mix but it makes melting that ice and snow even more difficult.

Given what we know now, Bruning and other crews say it’s important to plan ahead and prepare for slick roads and low visibility.

Use your flashers, and leave plenty of space between other cars and especially the snow plows.

“The best thing is to plan ahead,” said Bruning. “Allow extra time, plenty of extra time. You’re going to see those hazardous conditions out there, you’re going to have to slow down, you’re going to have to allow yourself a lot of extra time to reach your destination. Just plan ahead accordingly and we feel if you do that you’ll reach your destination safely.”

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