Noteworthy ice storm expected north of the Tri-Cities Thursday into early Friday with rain elsewhere

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(WJHL) – As moisture rides along cooler air to the north and warmer air to the south, that will be the perfect recipe for an ice storm in eastern Kentucky and some of our neighboring counties in southwest Virginia Thursday into Friday morning. Remember, when it comes to winter precipitation, a couple degrees make a difference. In this case, it’s too warm above our heads to have snow reach the ground.

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As of Wednesday evening, an Ice Storm Warning is going into effect overnight for virtually all of Kentucky down to Buchanan, Dickenson and Wise Counties in southwest Virginia. A couple tenths to a half-inch of ice is forecast in spots especially across Kentucky and very near the Virginia line. This will be enough to create dangerous driving conditions and some power outages because the trees can weaken after a layer of ice.

If this pans out, it could be the most significant ice storm in Kentucky since December 2010.

Confidence is a little lower for Lee County whether any icing will occur, but it’s possible. That’s why the National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory. Farther east, a Winter Storm Watch is in effect Thursday night and Friday from Wythe County northward. Sleet, ice and snow are possible there.

While there are no advisories for North Carolina yet, a light glaze of ice is possible at this time Thursday night through the beginning of the weekend. Here’s what our in-house computer model is showing for ice accumulations as a result of freezing rain. East Tennessee and especially the Tri-Cities area is not expected to get ice through Friday morning.

What causes freezing rain? It occurs when there’s a shallow layer of cold air near the ground. Moisture from the clouds falls as snow and then hits a batch of warm air melting the snow. When the rain hits the ground, it freezes on contact because the ground is near freezing. Trees, windshields, overpasses, and railing can become covered in ice.

Driving isn’t recommended with an ice potential this significant, but if you must, take it slow but don’t stop suddenly or go up steep inclines.

To stay up-to-date with the latest forecast, you can go to the weather homepage here.

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