Maryland to Virginia: I-81 to Ice Over Friday

By , Expert Senior Meteorologist
February 22, 2013; 9:43 AM
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Icy travel is in store along a stretch of I-81 from Maryland to Virginia during part of Friday. A stretch of I-40 and I-77 will also be icy in North Carolina.

While some snow will fall on part of this area for a time as well, freezing rain is the greatest concern for travelers.

The recent cold weather has made for chilly road surface temperatures and will cause rain that falls to freeze partially into Friday morning from near the Mason-Dixon Line on south through much of the southern Appalachians. Similar problems were occurring in Ohio early friday. Even though air temperatures may hover above freezing in some locations, the ground will be below freezing.

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Only a small amount of freezing rain and drizzle will occur, so that not enough falls to cause widespread downed trees and power outages. However, the danger is the road may appear to be damp, when in fact it may be covered with a thin sheen of clear ice (black ice).

Farther east over the I-95 corridor in the mid-Atlantic, road surface temperatures will recover quickly enough during the midday hours so that few wintry travel problems are likely.

A person traveling between Winston-Salem, N.C., and Roanoke, Va., or from Roanoke to Winchester, Va., should expect hazardous conditions Friday morning.

Improving travel conditions are likely Friday afternoon in the southern I-81 corridor and adjoining highways in the region. Surfaces will begin to thaw during this time. However, the overall weather will remain raw and chilly from Atlanta to upstate New York. Temperatures along much of the route will remain in the 30s.

Pockets of ice will continue into Friday night over the northern part of the mid-Atlantic to southern Ontario. Nasty weather will hold off in New England until Saturday into Sunday.

A low-level wedge of cold air will remain trapped from the spine of the Appalachians to the Piedmont areas. Meteorologists refer to this as cold air damming, where the cold air is dammed up on the eastern side of the Appalachians and to some extent in the mountain valleys.

Drenching rain will fall farther east and south in the region. Portions of the South will get enough rain to cause flash and urban flooding, as well as significant rises on small streams.

Some secondary roads could be flooded or washed out from southern Alabama to central North Carolina Friday into Saturday.

The rain will continue to blast away at drought conditions centered on Georgia and South Carolina.

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