As we get closer to the end of the week and closer to the arrival of this winter storm, the National Weather Service is getting a clearer picture of what people in Eastern Iowa, the Quad Cities, and Western Illinois might expect heading into Christmas weekend. All we know is that the chance of a white Christmas is increasing every day.

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On Monday, the National Weather Service of the Quad Cities and Des Moines put all 99 Iowa counties, the majority of Illinois counties, and the majority of Missouri counties under a Winter Storm Watch.

The reason for the watch is because of a strong possibility of a winter storm bringing blizzard-like conditions and snow throughout the region. On Tuesday, the National Weather Service of the Quad Cities upgraded select counties in Eastern Iowa to a Winter Storm Warning, and no, that's not an upgrade you want.

What's The Difference With Watches, Advisories, & Warnings?

First of all, what is the difference between a Winter Storm Watch, Winter Storm Advisory, Winter Storm Warning, and a Blizzard Warning? Here are the definitions, according to the National Weather Service:

  • Winter Storm Watch - BE AWARE!
    • A Winter Storm Watch is issued when there is the potential for significant and hazardous winter weather within 48 hours. It does not mean that significant and hazardous winter weather will occur, it only means it is possible.
  • Winter Weather Advisory - BE AWARE!
    • A Winter Weather Advisory will be issued when potentially dangerous winter weather is expected within the next 12 to 36 hours or is occurring. Travel difficulties are expected
  • Winter Storm Warning - TAKE ACTION
    • A Winter Storm Warning is issued when a significant combination of hazardous winter weather is occurring or imminent. That means dangerous winter weather is expected within the next 12 to 36 hours or is occurring. Major travel problems are expected in a Winter Storm Warning.
  • Blizzard Warning - TAKE ACTION
    • Similar to the advisory and the warning, a Blizzard Warning is when severe winter weather is expected within 12 to 36 hours or is happening. This includes whiteout conditions and no, a Blizzard Warning doesn't mean it's snowing like crazy but it means do not travel.

Portion Of Eastern Iowa Under A Winter Storm Warning

Don't be surprised if more counties get added to this list. My feeling is that the counties that were recently upgraded to a Winter Weather Warning have a more solid shot at terrible winter weather than others.

Uber Passenger Hit With $600 Charge After Getting Stuck in Snow Storm
Getty Images

On Tuesday, the National Weather Service of the Quad Cities announced that the majority of counties in Iowa will be going into a Winter Storm Warning on Wednesday, Dec. 21 from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 24. The following counties have NOT been moved to a Winter Storm Warning as of 3:18 p.m.:

  • Scott
  • Clinton
  • Muscatine
  • Louisa
  • Des Moines
  • Lee
  • Van Buren
  • Henry

The National Weather Service of the Quad Cities officials said in the announcement that heavy snow is expected with total snow accumulations of 4 to 7 inches. Winds could gust as high as 55 mph and blizzard conditions will also be possible. People should expect extreme cold wind chills as well. Wind chills as low as -30° to -40° below will be possible. The extreme cold is expected to kick in starting midday on Thursday.

You can see how cold the wind chill is thanks to this fancy chart from the National Weather Service:

Am I Going To Be Able To Travel For Christmas?

As Kevin and Kyle at KWQC have said, you're going to want to finish shopping for both presents and groceries before Wednesday. If you're traveling out of town to see family, you might want to push celebrating back a bit especially if you're traveling from Wednesday night to even Saturday morning.

Photo by Isaac Martin on Unsplash
Photo by Isaac Martin on Unsplash

The National Weather Service of the Quad Cities says that travel could be very difficult and a long-duration storm event. Officials say to plan travel around the peak hours of the storm either before it gets here or after. Plan on slippery road conditions. Widespread blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility.

Beware too that the strong winds could cause tree damage and potential power outages, the National Weather Service of the Quad Cities said. Check on loved ones and make sure your vehicle and home are prepared before this storm gets here.

Make Sure You Are Prepared!

Take a look at this list and make sure you have the following items at home and in your car!

Keep scrolling for a full list with photos.

Essential Winter Emergency Kit Items

Winter season in the Quad Cities means cold temperatures, heavy snow, and slick roads. Hopefully, you won't ever need to tap into your winter emergency kit, but it's better to have one in your car than to be unprepared. Make sure you have these essential items in your car before winter arrives in the Quad Cities.

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