A large winter storm forecast to unfold could adversely affect more than 100 million people this week from the Rockies to the Plains, South, Midwest and Northeast, if it develops to its full potential.
The latest indications continue to point toward a large storm forming amidst a building temperature contrast over the middle of the nation. Precipitation and strong cold air/warm air circulation around that storm will affect many millions of people from the interior West to the Atlantic Coast as next week progresses.
We are calling this system the Groundhog Day storm, and it will likely severely impact ground travel, and lead to canceled flights, school delays and closures. The storm is not only a concern for Wednesday, but for much of the week as the system moves along.
Warm air that built over the Plains this past week will be dramatically replaced by a charge of arctic air that will lead to blinding upslope snow along the High Plains and the Front Range of the Rockies.
As the cold air charges southward and becomes more shallow, a substantial ice storm may unfold for portions of the southern Plains. Meteorologist and former resident of the southern Plains, Heather Buchman, states, "This is the type of storm that could shut down the region with high winds, plunging temperatures, ice, snow and a rapid freeze-up on roads."
Expert Senior Meteorologist John Kocet points out, "Some parts of the Plains and Rockies may have a daily temperature drop of 50 degrees or more, caused by the storm."
If the storm develops to its full potential, parts of the Plains will experience life-threatening AccuWeather.com RealFeel® temperatures.
Nasty cold air, marked by near- or below-zero temperatures, could possibly grip areas during the day as arctic high pressure builds over the northern Rockies and Plains as the storm passes by.
The charge of cold air clashing with warm air will likely lead to heavy, perhaps severe, thunderstorms sweeping eastward through parts of the Mississippi Valley and South.
Depending on the storm's configuration as it heads to the eastern half of the nation, a zone of heavy snow and ice may form from parts of the Ohio Valley to the Northeast.
Depending on the track of the storm and how quickly it re-forms along the Atlantic Coast, heavy snow could blast part of the Great Lakes and much of the Northeast.
Some benefits from the storm would be more needed rain in the Deep South, moisture for the southern Plains, and the stirring out of fog over parts of the interior West.
How nasty the storm gets and the primary form of precipitation for the Northeast, Midwest, interior South, and Plains depend on the exact track of the storm.
The storm will have many negative effects, especially in parts of the Northeast, where snow-removal budgets are blown and roofs are stressed to the failure point from the magnitude of prior, record-breaking snowstorms.
According to AccuWeather.com Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams, "Kids in portions of Kentucky have missed over two weeks of school already this winter."
Meteorologist Mark Mancuso stated, "This storm and perhaps a second storm could impact travel to the Super Bowl in Dallas next weekend, potentially from areas of ice, snow, high winds and cold."
Keep checking in at AccuWeather.com for updates on this storm that will threaten lives and property.
This year's iconic spruce comes from a backyard 170 miles away.