Winter Storm Hunter to Bring a Mess of Snow, Ice to the Ohio Valley, Great Lakes, Northern New England After a Possible Northern Plains Blizzard

Jonathan Erdman, Chris Dolce, Brian Donegan
Published: January 10, 2018

Winter Storm Hunter will bring a mess of heavy snow, freezing rain and sleet from the West to the Plains, Midwest and Northeast through Saturday.

(MORE: How Winter Storms are NamedWinter Storm Central)

This latest winter storm will occur in two phases:

During phase one of Winter Storm Hunter, low pressure will bring snow to the Mountain West, northern Plains and upper Midwest.

Phase 1 (Through Thursday): A southward dip in the jet stream will pivot out of the West and into the Plains states as fresh Arctic air plunges south. A swath of snow will fall in the cold air, driven by strong winds.

Phase 2 (Thursday night-Saturday): Another area of low pressure will develop along the front, spreading snow, sleet and freezing rain across parts of the Tennessee Valley, Ohio Valley, Great Lakes and interior Northeast.

Winter storm watches, warnings and winter weather advisories have been hoisted by the National Weather Service over a swath of the upper Mississippi Valley, northern and central Plains, High Plains and Rockies for phase one of Winter Storm Hunter.

In addition, a blizzard warning has been posted in the Red River Valley of eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota, where blowing snow may lead to near-zero visibility in open country.

(MORE: What Is a Blizzard? | America's Blizzard Alley)

Current Winter Alerts

Below, we take a closer look at what to expect over the next several days as Winter Storm Hunter tracks across the country. Forecast changes are likely in the days ahead, so check back with for updates.

(MORE: What's the Worst Winter Hazard? Depends Where You Live)

Forecast: Phase 1 of Hunter


Thursday's Forecast

Snowfall Forecast

  • The greatest snowfall totals from phase one of Hunter will likely be found in the Mountain West, including the Washington Cascades and the northern Rockies. Totals over a foot are likely in the higher terrain.
  • A strip of moderate snow totals (locally 6 inches or more) is possible over the High Plains of eastern Montana, as well as a swath from Iowa to southeast Minnesota, northwest Wisconsin and the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Snowfall Forecast Through Thursday

Forecast: Phase 2 of Hunter

A second area of low pressure will develop along the advancing cold front in association with Winter Storm Hunter and push into the East by Saturday.

With moisture wrapping into the cold air near the front, a mess of snow, sleet and freezing rain will be the result starting Thursday night, continuing into Saturday.

Here is our latest forecast timing:

Thursday night

  • A strip of freezing rain or sleet is expected from as far south as the mid-South region (West Tennessee, northeastern Arkansas) into the mid-Mississippi and lower Ohio valleys. 
  • Farther north, rain or a brief wintry mix should change over to light snow in Michigan.

Thursday Night's Forecast


  • The band of snow, sleet and freezing rain will march east through the Tennessee Valley, Ohio Valley and eastern Great Lakes.
  • Any precipitation that starts as rain early Friday could change to freezing rain, sleet and/or snow from west to east in this zone.

Friday's Forecast

Friday Night

  • Precipitation in the Ohio Valley and near the eastern Great Lakes should transition to snow or sleet from west to east.
  • Freezing rain may persist in a narrow band from parts of Pennsylvania, central and upstate New York to northern New England.
  • Much of the rest of the Northeast, even as far north as southern Maine, should see rain. 

Friday Night's Forecast


  • Snow will linger in much of New York state and far northern New England.
  • A band of sleet and freezing rain may persist from the Hudson Valley north of New York City into parts of northern New England.

Saturday's Forecast

Snow/Ice Outlook

There is still some uncertainty regarding where the swaths of snow and ice will be located and how much will occur.

For now, the heaviest snow accumulation is expected in a swath near the eastern Great Lakes. However, it's also worth noting snow accumulations will occur in the Ohio Valley, southward into Kentucky, Tennessee, possibly as far south as northern Mississippi and northern Alabama.

Snowfall Outlook Through Saturday

Prior to the snow, ice accumulations may be sufficient to slicken most untreated roads, particularly bridges and overpasses.

In some areas, enough ice may accumulate to lead to some downed tree limbs and weaker trees and trigger some power outages.

(MORE: Where Freezing Rain is Most Common in the U.S.)

Ice Potential Through Early Saturday

This forecast will change in the days ahead as the details come into focus, so be sure to check back for updates and more specifics.

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