After months of campaigning and jockeying for position, the 2016 Presidential Election season officially gets underway Monday, Feb. 1, with the Iowa Caucuses.
Voters from Iowa's 99 counties will meet in caucus as the first step to determine who will represent the state at the Republican and Democratic national conventions.
However, a winter storm moving from the Intermountain West is likely to cause snow to spread over a large part of the central and northern Plains during Monday night and Tuesday.
The voting prospects weather-wise could become precarious before the close of the caucuses because of the incoming storm system, AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Matt Rinde stated. The heaviest precipitation will arrive in part of the state during Monday night.
The caucuses are scheduled to be begin at 7:00 p.m. CST.
"The storm is likely to bring mostly snow to the western and northern counties of the state with a rain/snow mix in the southeast," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said. "However, how heavy the precipitation becomes and where the cutoff between rain and snow is will depend on the track of the storm."
During Monday night into Tuesday, temperatures across Iowa will range from the upper 20s F and lower 30s in the northwestern part of the state to the middle 30s to lower 40s in the southeastern counties.
"Roads could become slippery and snow-covered, especially in the western counties," Sosnowski said. "The combination of increasing wind and wet, clinging snow in some areas could lead to sporadic power outages as the storm progresses into Tuesday."
It is possible that those who are out well into the nighttime hours on Monday could get caught in the storm, Sosnowski added.
It's not clear how much of an impact inclement weather plays on caucus turnout, but the old adage that Republicans "pray for rain" turns out to be true in presidential elections, according to a 2007 study in The Journal of Politics.
The study "The Republicans Should Pray for Rain: Weather, Turnout, and Voting in U.S. Presidential Elections" found that as rain and snow increase above their respective election day normals, the better the Republican presidential candidate fared.
For every 1-inch increase in rain above its Election Day normal, the Republican presidential candidate received approximately an extra 2.5 percent of the vote, the study showed.
For every 1-inch increase in snow above normal, the Republican candidate's vote share increases by approximately 0.6 of a percent.
After Iowa, the first-in-the-nation primary will be held Tuesday, Feb. 9, in New Hampshire.