By Shereen Siewert

A winter storm expected to dump up to 8 inches of wet, heavy snow in the area over the next few days is prompting snow emergencies in Wausau and Weston.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for dozens of central Wisconsin communities including Wausau and all of Marathon County from 3 a.m. Thursday to 9 a.m. Friday. Expect a light mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain late Wednesday into early Thursday, then heavy snow into Thursday evening. A light glaze of ice overnight Wednesday could make roadways slippery, weather officials said.

Between 5 and 8 inches of snow is expected with winds gusting as high as 35 mph late Thursday into Friday, causing considerable blowing and drifting of snow in open areas.

Travel could be very difficult. Patchy blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility and the hazardous conditions will likely impact the Thursday morning and evening commutes. The Friday morning commute could also be treacherous.

Travelers are urged to keep an extra flashlight, food and water inside vehicles in case of emergency.

A snow emergency has been issued for Wausau and Weston. In Wausau, the emergency is in effect from 7 a.m. Thursday through 7 p.m. Friday. No parked vehicles are allowed during that time, when city crews will be plowing streets to make way for commuting traffic and emergency vehicles. Violators will be fined $100.

In Weston, the snow emergency stretches from 4 a.m. Thursday to noon on Friday. Vehicles on the street could be towed, according to an email from Everest Metro Police Chief Clay Schulz.