A storm similar to an Alberta clipper will spread disruptive snow from the northern Plains to the Ohio Valley into this weekend, slowing ground travel and sparking delays for flights at major airports in the region, including Chicago's O'Hare Airport.
Plunging temperatures in the wake of the storm will turn untreated wet and slushy roads and sidewalks to ice.
The storm will target the Interstate 94 corridor first. Several inches of snow will fall from much of North Dakota Friday to northern Illinois and central Indiana by Saturday. Up to a foot of snow will blanket cities and towns that lie in the heaviest band of snow.
The exact track of the storm will determine who gets the "lollipop" as far as snowfall is concerned. A jog farther north or south would shift the steady, heavy snow area.
At this time it appears the storm will track south of Detroit and Cleveland, sparing the cities from a big accumulation. However, provided the storm does not weaken considerably, Indianapolis and Cincinnati could do well as far as snowfall is concerned.
Just to the south of the heaviest snow, a zone of ice or a wintry mix will also coat roads, making for slippery travel.
At present, it appears Omaha, Kansas City, St. Louis and Nashville would slide underneath the snow and ice and would end up on the milder side of the storm. Even so, the situation still bears watching.
No doubt, some snow would survive the trip into the Virginias, and a mixture of rain and wet snow could even reach part of the North Carolina coast by Sunday.
The overall weather pattern bears watching as progressively colder weather will continue to invade from the northern Plains into much of the East over the next couple of weeks.
People downwind of the Great Lakes will need their snow shovels even if they miss the weekend storm, as a lake-effect event aims to drop enough snow to be measured with a yardstick in the traditional areas.
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