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Messy January Thaw - LEX18.com | Continuous News and StormTracker Weather

Messy January Thaw

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Following several rounds of Arctic air, we will start "thawing" out late in the upcoming weekend. We are tracking a storm system to accompany the thaw. This system could make for a messy and icy start to next week work. Temperatures will be hovering around freezing through most of the day on Sunday. "Warmer" air will be surging in with this approaching system, but it's going to take a while to warm up the ground. The ground is frozen solid and will act as freezer as precipitation starts to fall. The Monday morning commute could be challenging across central Kentucky.

The event kicks off after dark on Sunday. Precipitation may start as a wintry mix of snow, sleet, and freezing rain before transitioning to a brief period of freezing rain, and eventually a cold rain through most of Monday for central Kentucky. The greatest threat for snow and ice accumulation will be across northern Kentucky, generally along and north of I-64. Southern Kentucky will see some freezing rain at the onset before transitioning to all rain.

The precipitation forecast is tricky, and still needs to be complete nailed down at this point. Aforementioned, the ground is frozen. Temperatures have been below freezing since the evening of Christmas Eve. We have also seen some of the coldest temperatures in almost two years during that time. The air temperatures will warm up faster than the ground. The timing of the advancing above freezing temperatures will play a key role in the precipitation type forecast. That's why we will keep the potential for snow, sleet, and freezing rain Sunday night.

Precipitation type reflects the temperature profile of the air above the ground. The large melting layer followed by a small freezing layer near the ground will result in freezing rain. A larger freezing layer will allow drops to re-freeze and produce sleet. A column completely below freezing will result in snow; while a lack of a freezing layer will produce rain.

Additionally, given the very cold ground and road temperatures, even if air temperatures warm above freezing Sunday night and Monday, and rain is falling, the water will freeze on ground surfaces, making them slick and hazardous. The Monday morning commute and travel may be impacted.

Before the wintry mix arrives, please review these winter driving tips to help you deal with the black ice and slick conditions Monday morning.

Sunday's night forecast is still in flux. We will be updating the forecast throughout the weekend. You can get the latest updates when we're not on the air over on the Weather page or on the LEX 18 StormTracker Weather app.

- Meteorologist Jill Szwed

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