A powerful storm system forecast to move across the nation’s midsection next week could foul post-Christmas travel.
“It’s a huge system,” said Becky Kern, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service, “and it will basically be like a big bowling ball across the middle of America after Christmas.”
Kern said flexibility will be the key for those planning to travel after Christmas.
“Keep a close eye on the weather” and local news, she said.
The latest forecast calls for the system to hit the nation’s midsection Tuesday evening and last into Wednesday, Kern said.
The moisture-rich system will be accompanied by sharply falling temperatures. Most of the central part of the country will be affected by one type of weather or another.
To the north of the Council Bluffs-Omaha metro, travelers headed to the Dakotas and Minnesota could encounter a full-blown winter storm with windy conditions making visibility difficult.
West of Omaha, travelers between here and the Rockies also could encounter winter driving conditions.
And to the south and east of Omaha, severe weather — thunderstorms and tornadoes — is possible.
Omaha itself is likely to see rain and slush, she said, assuming the current forecast holds.
“For us, it’s a little bit of a wild card,” she said. “It might just be a lot of rain in eastern Nebraska.”
Rain in the winter poses a flood threat when the ground is frozen.
Fortunately, the ground in the Omaha metro area has thawed out with the recent warm weather, Kern said, so it should be able to soak up some of the rain.
The system will be fast-moving, she said. The latest forecast calls for it to move out of the central United States by Thursday.
Travel conditions in its wake will depend on the amount of cleanup left to do, she said.
The upcoming forecast, according to the weather service:
Today: Mostly sunny, with a high near 44. Northwest wind 7 to 11 mph, with gusts as high as 22 mph.
Tonight: Partly cloudy, with a low around 26. West northwest wind around 7 mph.
Sunday: Sunny, with a high near 42. West wind 6 to 9 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.
Sunday night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 26. Calm wind becoming east southeast around 6 mph after midnight.
Monday: A chance of flurries before noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 41.
Monday night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 27.
Christmas Day: Mostly sunny, with a high near 41.
Tuesday night: A chance of snow after midnight. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 31.
Wednesday: Snow likely before 10 a.m., then rain and snow likely between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., then rain after 11 a.m. Cloudy, with a high near 40.
Wednesday night: Rain and snow. Cloudy, with a low around 33.
Thursday: Rain and snow likely. Some thunder is also possible. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 43.
Thursday night: A chance of rain and snow. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 24.
Friday: Partly sunny, with a high near 30.