As with any winter storm, the theories are out there.
Randolph County could be in line for a significant winter storm during the latter portion of this week, but the storm system predicted to be responsible for it hasn"t yet made landfall on the continental U.S.
"That"s the big question," said Jim Kramper, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service"s St. Louis office, on the potential for freezing rain. "Right now, it does look like the critical time would be Thursday evening through Friday morning.
"The big question is how far south the cold air is going to sink."
Kramper noted a cold front will sweep through the area on Thursday, with precipitation picking up late Thursday afternoon into Thursday night.
"Right now, I think the Randolph County will be on the northern edge of how far south (the cold front) is going to go. Those in the area could definitely see some freezing rain."
Kramper was asked if this storm system was related to the ones that have brought flooding rain to California.
"There"s been several storm systems that have been plowing into California," he said. "The one that"s going to affect us hasn"t come onshore yet and that"s why there"s so much uncertainty.
"We haven"t been able to sample it yet."
Kramper noted the storm system in question is expected to come together either Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning. He said wind speeds in the upper atmosphere tend to be faster in winter, making storm systems faster as a result.
However, this storm system is predicted to buck the trend and be a slow-mover.
"This thing"s going to be with us probably the whole weekend," he said.
Kramper was also asked about the potential for flooding. According to the U.S. Geological Survey"s Chester gauge, the Mississippi River was at 7.6 feet Tuesday afternoon, roughly 20 feet below flood stage.
"Right now, the rain amounts do not look that big," he said. "Flooding is something that we"re not even mentioning as of now."
Kramper was also asked about whether county residents should prepare beforehand by getting the usuals (milk, bread and eggs).
"I would say travel would not be recommended Thursday night and Friday for sure," he said. "If you don"t have to go somewhere, I would not go.
"Potentially by Saturday afternoon it could improve, but it could be iffy."
The last winter storm to affect the county, Winter Storm Decima, was blamed for causing one area death in a two-vehicle accident on Route 153 in Washington County on Dec. 16.
A light glaze of ice caused by freezing rain resulted in numerous other accidents around the region, with the Illinois State Police reporting 475 calls for service (298 of which were wrecks) during the height of the storm.
"Right now, it"s not lining up like a critical event for your area, but it will definitely impact travel," Kramper said.