Possible snow expected Wednesday evening and Thursday

Wednesday, January 11, 2012 | 12:27 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — There will be a sharp change to the unseasonably warm winter weather Wednesday evening and drivers are being advised to be careful during the morning commute.

A strong cold front is expected to move across Missouri Wednesday evening, according to the National Weather Service. The front will bring in colder temperatures and "gusty" 14 to 20 mph winds from the northwest as well as a 70 percent chance of precipitation.

The National Weather Service released a special weather statement advising motorists to prepare for a slow commute Thursday morning on snow-covered roads.

Jim Kramper, meteorologist with the service in St. Louis, said the front will start to move into the Columbia area between 4 and 5 p.m. Wednesday, causing temperatures to gradually drop.

The front is expected to cause snow in the area Wednesday evening and early Thursday morning. Kramper said a light snow will start around 9 p.m. and accumulation is expected to be an inch or less.

He said he doesn't anticipate traffic problems for the Columbia area unless a blast of snow occurs between 4 and 5 a.m. when the roads are the coldest and can increase accumulation.

According to previous Missourian reporting, Columbia has had 1.3 inches of snow through Tuesday, while there were 12.2 inches of snow by this point last winter before a series of significant snows during February and March.

Cold weather will remain in the area Thursday with 20 percent chance for snow, a high near 26 degrees and winds as high as 28 mph.

Friday is expected to be sunny with a high near 28 degrees. Warmer weather is expected to return Saturday with a high near 41 degrees and sunshine.

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