Forecast: Rainy Thursday will lead to a snowy weekend

CLEVELAND - A WINTER STORM WATCH has been issued for Cuyahoga, Lake, Geauga, & Ashtabula Counties from Thursday evening to Saturday evening. Snow totals of 6 to 10 inches are possible for the Watch area by Saturday afternoon. Also, winds gusting above 40 mph could cause blowing and drifting snow along with treacherous travel.

A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY has been issued for Erie, Huron, Sandusky, Seneca, Holmes, Richland, & Ashland Counties from 7pm Thursday night thru 7am Friday morning. 2-4 inches of snow is expected along with blowing and drifting snow.

7:00 pm Update: For many the holiday vacations begin this week. So, lets help you plan the next few days of shopping and wrapping. Strong storm system is still forecast to blow into Ohio beginning Thursday afternoon. The precipitation will start out as rain ahead of the cold front Thursday. High temperatures will climb up to near 50 degrees. Winds will start to increase as well during the day. Gusts could exceed 35 mph by the afternoon rush hour.

The cold front will sweep through the area Thursday night. Windy conditions are likely with gusts to near 50 mph at times. The main area of rain will exit east of Ohio with the front, but scattered rain showers will quickly build back in from the west. As the cold air mixes in from the west, scattered snow showers will develop toward dawn. Low temperatures will fall back to near 30 degrees. Overnight snow totals should fall in the Trace to 2" range.

Friday will be windy & cold! Temperatures will hover in the lower 30s most areas with wind chill values in the teens! Scattered snow showers are likely area wide, transitioning to lake effect snow bands during the late afternoon. Where these snow bands persist, 2-5" of snow are possible by evening. Outside the snow bands, look for a trace to 2" of snowfall during the day.

Lake effect snow squalls will continue Friday night. Additional accumulations of 2-5" are possible where squalls persist. This would be primarily from Northern Lorain County east through Cuyahoga, Lake, Geauga & Ashtabula Counties. Extreme Northern Summit, Portage and Trumbull Counties could also share in some heavier snow totals by Saturday morning. Gusty winds will also cause blowing and drifting snow.

The lake effect snow should end quickly during the day Saturday. So, anyone with Holiday plans Saturday afternoon and evening should be OK. Sunday will be dry as well. Stay tuned!

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I'm Meteorologist Jason Nicholas continuing our weather web coverage today. For more weather updates, follow me on Twitter @ JasonNweather.   Also follow me on Facebook here.

Temps have risen to near 40 under mainly cloudy skies. Today will be rather uneventful, weather-wise.

We're seeing mainly cloudy skies to begin your Wednesday. Temps are in the upper 30s and low 40s. Any rain and snow we had overnight has moved out.

Expect a quiet and dry day today with highs in the 40s.

Things change as we move into Thursday. A large storm system will arrive from the SW, bringing us rain on Thursday with warming temps to near 50. It'll also be quite windy Thursday with winds gusting to near 40 mph.

By overnight Thursday into Friday, cold air moves in and changes the rain over to snow. Snow showers will be around during the day on Friday with much colder air. Highs Friday will only reach into the mid 30s.  By Friday night most of the snow will turn more lake effect and some spots in our snow belt could see several inches of snow by noon Saturday. Elsewhere, I expect a coating of 1 - 3 inches snow during the day Friday. Our lake effect spots could see 3 - 6 plus inches of snow, where squalls persist.

This is appropriate since Friday is the official start of winter. Winds again will gust to near 40 mph causing some blowing snow and lowering visibility. Friday will be rather nasty, especially since we haven't seen much winter weather yet this season. In fact, we've only seen 3/10" of snow all season. This will end Friday.

Cold air will stick around for the weekend with some lake snows on Saturday. Highs both days will only reach the low 30s.

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