A powerful storm will take aim on the Midwest during the second half of the week and threatens to bring travel disruptions, damage and power outages.
Cities in the path of one or more aspects of the storm include Kansas City, Omaha, St. Louis, Des Moines, Chicago, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Louisville, Detroit, Cincinnati and Cleveland.
Blizzard conditions have already impacted portions of Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa and will spread into Wisconsin and Illinois Thursday.
The most widespread aspect of the storm will be high winds sweeping eastward spanning Thursday and Friday. Gusts in the neighborhood of 50 to 60 mph are possible from the eastern Plains to the Appalachians.
There is the potential for gusts to near hurricane-force in the vicinity of lakes Michigan and Erie later Thursday into Friday.
Winds of this strength have can bring downed trees, power outages, truck roll overs and major flight delays.
The high winds will accompany a dramatic change to cold weather. While this change will be brief over part of the central Plains and Tennessee Valley, it can bring a rapid freezeup to part of the Upper Midwest and a major lake-effect snow event.
Even a small amount of snow preceded by rain can quickly freeze, making for a commuting nightmare Thursday afternoon and evening around Chicago and Milwaukee and Thursday night around Detroit.
Bands of heavy lake-effect snow and snow squalls accompanied by the high winds will also lead to white-out conditions downwind of the Great Lakes as the storm pulls away Friday into Saturday.
The storm will also have dramatic weather effects in the South and the Northeast.
A severe weather outbreak will occur today in the South in keeping with tradition over recent years during December.
The storm will pull warm air northward ahead of a strong cold front and powerful winds in the upper levels of the atmosphere.
Violent storms with damaging winds are possible in the South. Thunderstorms can accompany the frontal passage in the Midwest and Northeast as well.
Strong south-to-southeasterly winds ahead of the front can bring coastal flooding problems in New England. The storm has the potential to bring flooding downpours and travel delays along the East Coast later Thursday into Friday.
Powerful winds in the wake of the front Friday into Saturday can also lead to flight delays and minor power outages along the East Coast. Heavy snow is also a possibility from northern upstate New York to northern Maine.
One positive aspect of the storm and others in the recent past and possibly on deck is the moisture aspect for part of the needy upper Mississippi Valley. For example, enough moisture falling over the Illinois River Basin could help to stabilize the Mississippi River at St. Louis in the short term.
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