By Ron Smiley

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Winter weather returns as we head into the weekend.

Latest model data shows a significant winter storm that will bring possible rain, storms, freezing rain, ice and snow to Western Pennsylvania Friday night into Saturday morning.

At this point you should expect to see challenging travel first thing on Saturday morning.

So we’ve known that the ingredients have been there when it comes to a big snow potential over the past couple of days as a potent upper low and inverted trough moves across the Midwest. For Pittsburgh that means a chance for thunderstorms as soon as Thursday evening. Warmer weather through Friday and a freezing rain chance as we head into Saturday.

At this point data is pointing to a decent amount of ice on roads first thing on Saturday morning along with snow. Not a good mix. Expect challenged travel on area roads to start your day on Saturday.

So let’s break down what we expect to happen. For Wednesday a warm front will move through from 10a-1p giving the region a passing rain shower chance. On the leading edge of the front I wouldn’t be surprised if we get one or two sleet reports but any ice that falls would not last for long. No issues on roadways today. Temps for the afternoon should be in the 40s and maybe even the 50s. Skies will remain cloudy through the ‘day.’

As we head into Thursday the morning should be dry but as we head into the afternoon there will be a rain and storm chance. If the atmosphere was warmer we’d be expecting a major severe storm outbreak but should only see limited thunderstorms moving in from the southwest. I do expect we will likely be added to the marginal severe risk map later on today but we will see. At this point just general storms are expected but I can’t rule out maybe some small hail in one or two of the storms moving through.

On Friday Rain showers and storms will be possible throughout the day, but as we begin to head into the overnight hours, things will begin to change. Sleet and freezing rain will be possible after 8p on Friday through around 3a on Saturday. Freezing rain will then change over to snow where we could see several inches of snow on the ground by sunrise Saturday morning. Remember the snow will be in addition to what could be maybe 0.05” of ice that falls and freezes in the overnight hours.

Saturday morning’s commute could be a hazardous one with ice on roadways and covered by snow. If you have Saturday plans you should be prepared.

Please remember this is a fluid weather situation with a forecast that is likely to need adjusting and even changed.

At this point it is clear that the region should prepare for snow and ice Saturday morning.

The forecast for the system will only improve as we get closer to Friday. If you’re wondering no warm-up is heading our way next week so the ice and snow will be around for a while is what it looks like at this point.

In fact another round of arctic air is expected to move in Tuesday into Wednesday and will push temps down around 0 for those mornings.