A storm set to track southeast to northwest across the Gulf of Mexico will spread a swath of drenching rain, but also debilitating ice and snow, over interior areas of the South starting late in the weekend.
The storm is sneaking through the Desert Southwest to close out this week, but will spring to life, grabbing increasing amounts of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico as it travels eastward.
The table is being set for major problems with snow and ice from the Interstate 20 corridor northward to near Interstate 40, as well as a large part of the Interstate 85 corridor in North Carolina and upstate South Carolina.
Cities that appear to be in the heart of the wintry debacle include Shreveport, La., Little Rock, Ark., Tupelo, Miss., Huntsville and Birmingham, Ala., Memphis and Chattanooga, Tenn., Atlanta, Ga., Greenville, S.C., and Charlotte, Winston-Salem and Raleigh, N.C.
For northern parts of Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, as well as the southern Appalachians, most of the storm may be in the form of snow, perhaps as much as a half foot.
Some of the snow may come down hard enough to cover roads, even during the daytime. However, as disruptive as snow is for many Southern activities, it is the wintry mix of ice that may cause most problems.
Even areas as far southwest as Dallas could have a few hours of sleet or freezing rain.
Areas just south of the snow will receive sleet, or worse, freezing rain. There is potential for 1/4 to 1/2 inch of ice to fall in a narrow zone north of the plain-rain area, and south of the all-snow area. This amount of glaze can easily bring down trees and power lines. Even a smaller amount of ice on top of the snow can result in the same mess.
Exactly how far north/south the northern edges of the snow, the snow/ice line, and ice/rain line set up has yet to be determined. However, even portions of southern Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and southeastern South Carolina may get a few hours of sleet or some sort of wintry mix.
The bottom line: If you have travel plans in or passing through the South Sunday into Monday, expect substantial delays. The snow, ice, and delays from the storm will then spread farther up the East Coast Tuesday and Wednesday.
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