IOWA — A powerful winter storm and an accompanying blast of arctic air remains on track to impact the state late tomorrow afternoon and well into the holiday weekend.

Several inches of snow will be expected across much of Iowa, with fierce winds making travel difficult or impossible even for areas on the lower end of snow ranges.

The Winter Storm Watch for Central Iowa begins at 6 PM on Wednesday, and extending until 6 AM on Saturday.

Snow will arrive in Western Iowa as early as 3 PM Wednesday, with the first flakes falling in Des Moines as early as 6 PM Wednesday. The first couple of hours of snow may fall with lighter winds, but this will not last.

As the storm roars across Iowa in the night and first half of Thursday, winds will pick up with gusts to 40 mph. The low will continue to strengthen, with 40 to 50 mph gusts later Thursday into Friday.

This will create blizzard conditions for much or all of Thursday, and could keep blizzard conditions and zero visibilities in tact through Friday, even with the falling snow ove

The snow will be quite light and fluffy, and will be blown around very easily by the strong winds.

Temperatures will plummet below zero as well, combining with the winds to push wind chills to -25 to -40 during the watch time period. Des Moines is expected to drop below -20 wind chill Thursday morning, and not warm past that until at least lunch Saturday.

Snowfall totals are expected to be in the 3 to 6 inch range across Central Iowa at the moment, though higher amounts can’t be ruled out. Even so, snow totals will almost take second or third billing with the storm, as the winds will only need a couple of inches of accumulation before travel becomes difficult to impossible.

Snow Forecast

Weather Tools

This is a life threatening situation with the cold and wind, and travel will be highly impacted. Vehicles could easily become stranded, and roads may drift shut. Frostbite may occur in less than 10 minutes, and rescues of stranded motorists will likely be extremely difficult. If at all possible, alternate travel plans should be made to avoid risking the elements on Thursday.