The National Weather Service is expecting serious snowfall and extreme temperatures Thursday into Friday of this week. Snowfall is expected Wednesday into Thursday with up to several inches of snowfall predicted. In addition, bitter cold temperatures and strong winds will make for dangerous holiday travel conditions later this week.

“Temperatures are going to fall in the order of maybe 10 to maybe 20 degrees in just a matter of just a few hours behind the front,” according to Fred Glass, Senior Meteorologist at the National Weather Service in St. Louis. “Also, with that is going to be some strong and gusty winds gusting with the front itself and its passage up to 40 miles an hour, but those strong and gusty winds are going to last all the way Thursday night into Friday, so long after the front has actually gone through. Those plummeting temperatures, not only will they plummet when the front comes through, but they’ll continue dropping all the way into Thursday night. We’re looking at Friday morning lows anywhere from the single digits down in Southeast Missouri in the bootheel region to 15 below up in the northwest corner of this state. The combination of those winds and those plummeting temperatures and various cold readings are going to produce some very dangerous wind chills.”

Glass blames the dramatically changing weather on an arctic front, which forms in the Arctic and moves southward. In addition to the falling temperatures, the strong winds will increase, which could cause wind chill values to be well below zero Thursday and Friday. The extreme cold could cause hypothermia to set in in a manner of minutes.

Like for some of the coldest days, as we’re looking like say on Friday, we’re talking about temperature differences on the order of probably close to 35 to 40 degrees below normal,” adds Glass. “This is really on the bounds of well below normal, well, well, well below normal.”

Snowfall is expected, but how much is unknown at this time. Glass expects to have a better idea as we get closer to Thursday and Friday. Based on the current models, accumulating snowfall will take place for a majority of the state. The greatest potential snowfall is the northern half of Missouri with amounts tapering further south.

“I hate to put actual numbers on it, but right now, I’d say there’s probably anywhere from a 60-to-80% chance of those areas that I’ve talked about will see at least two inches of snowfall, and probably a 50-to-60% chance of seeing four inches or greater of snowfall,” according to Glass. “There could be even some areas that we’re seeing excess of six inches over the far northwest part of the state.”

The wind, the falling temperatures, the snow, could make for hazardous driving conditions for the Christmas holiday this coming weekend.