The National Weather Service is predicting what could be the heaviest snowfall so far this winter, with potential to make Friday morning’s commute difficult or perilous.

The snow is expected to start Thursday evening with 4 to 6 inches on the ground by Friday morning in the Janesville area, said Sarah Marquardt, meteorologist with the National Weather Service at Sullivan.

“If you do not have to travel, stay off the roads until the snow subsides and main roads are plowed for safer travel,” the Rock County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

Meteorologists’ best guess Wednesday afternoon was 7 inches for Rock, Green and Walworth counties when the snowfall ends Friday.

There’s a slight chance of lesser snow amounts and a slight chance of snow as deep as 9 inches around Janesville, Marquardt said.

The high-end prediction for Elkhorn was 10 inches.

The sheriff’s office urged residents to travel as little as possible and to take frequent breaks while clearing snow to avoid overexertion.

Forecasts also indicate blowing and drifting snow with the approaching snow system. The Rock County Sheriff’s Office cautions citizens to minimize their travel accordingly.

The reason for the quibble is an expected sharp dividing line between the lesser snows to the north and the deeper snow to the south, Marquardt said. If the storm tracks slightly south of the predicted track, the state line counties could see less snow.

“Janesville is kind of right in that margin,” Marquardt said.

The snow won’t be as fluffy as the most recent snows, but it won’t be extremely wet and heavy, either, Marquardt said.

“You should be able to make snowballs with it,” she said.

Most of the snow is likely to fall between 10 p.m. Thursday and 6 a.m. Friday, Marquardt said, but lighter snow will linger into Friday morning and possibly into Friday afternoon.

The high temperature is expected to be around 20 on Friday.

The town of Beloit decided Wednesday evening to declare a snow emergency.

Town residents are required to keep their vehicles off the streets from 3 p.m. Thursday through 8 a.m. Saturday.

Gusty northeast winds will follow the storm, causing drifting, according to the forecast.

The sheriff’s office said those who do travel should pack an emergency kit. Other advice:

  • Fill gas tanks of cars and snow blowers ahead of the storm.
  • Turn on headlights when traveling during the storm.
  • Allow extra time getting where you need to go.
  • Maintain space between your vehicle and those around you.
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