This late-week system packs a bit of a surprise, the way things look this morning. Warm air is forecast to work into the lower and mid levels of the atmosphere — for discussion’s sake, let’s hay half a mile to a mile up. As Thursday night progresses into Friday, that warm air will work closer to the ground, and some areas will see changeover from sleet to freezing rain, eventually to just a cold rain.
It’s going to be incredibly difficult to nail down what type of precipitation will fall at what time in any given location, so regardless where you get your more detailed forecasts, take them with a huge shaker of salt. It is literally possible in this system to go from snow to sleet to freezing rain to liquid rain in a very short distance, maybe even as close as 10 miles. So don’t get too hung up on precipitation mode or totals of any given type of precipitation.
What you need to do to prepare: this should be an event that has primary impacts to driving conditions, especially Friday morning. I don’t see it being a school-closing day, even the worst-forecast impacts aren’t that bad. The only caveat here is that it is possible an area or two would have enough rain and temperatures just right to have icing of power lines and tree branches, but possibly never freeze on the ground. So a couple of scattered power issues aren’t out of the question. But really, if you’re prepared for winter driving conditions Friday morning, the rest of the event should be nothing to write home about. On the threat matrix below, somewhere between a 0 and 1 index level.