The first weekend of spring, or the last weekend of winter?

The answer is coming from the northwest – and the northeast – and will arrive in force by Saturday afternoon with rain, snow and winds from Canada’s Hudson Bay area possibly cold enough to freeze whatever falls from the sky.

The National Weather Service on Friday issued a Winter Weather Advisory ahead of the low-pressure storm system speeding in from the Great Plains.

Pekin-area residents can expect the rain scheduled to begin Friday evening to change to snow by Saturday afternoon, with a predicted 1-inch accumulation, according to the National Weather Service in Lincoln.

Later in the day, “cold air will try to leak in” from northeastern Canada, said NWS meteorologist Kirk Huettl. Temperatures may drop below freezing, leaving wet sidewalks and streets slick with ice, he said.

“Whatever comes, we’ll be ready to go,” with salt trucks equipped with plows, said Bob Shaw, director of Pekin’s Department of Streets and Solid Waste.

Shaw said he planned to patrol the city’s streets into Saturday’s pre-dawn hours to determine the best strategy to deal with the day’s volatile conditions.

“It’s all about timing,” he said. “If the temperature drops below freezing, anything can happen.” His crews will be ready to deal with the rain, snow and ice the day may bring, he said.

The western storm’s heaviest snow will fall in a relatively narrow band north of the Interstate 74, Huettl said. Northern Peoria County could see 3 to 5 inches during the day, while Stark, Marshall and northern Woodford counties could get as much as 8 inches. Pekin “will be on the southern fringe” of the snow band, he said.

Sunday afternoon should bring clearing skies and a high in the low 40s, Huettl said. Easterly winds will sweep in behind the passing storm, with gusts as high as 15 mph.

Monday may bring more rain, but temperatures in the low 50s will remind central Illinois residents that spring actually has arrived.