Snow, ice may freeze up travel in midwestern US into Friday night

By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
January 12, 2018, 2:58:15 PM EST

As a storm continues to slice along a rapid change to colder air, rain will change to ice and snow from the Tennessee and Ohio valleys to the western slopes of the Appalachians into Friday night.

Despite the warm conditions as the storm begins, an invasion of arctic air will lead to slippery and dangerous travel, airline delays and flight cancellations as well as the risk of power outages.

The greatest amount of rain during the first part of the storm will be on the western slopes of the Appalachians, where a risk of flooding continues. Small streams may quickly spill out of their banks, while ice jams may develop on some of the rivers.

A small, but slippery amount of ice and snow has occurred in Indianapolis, Detroit and Memphis, Tennessee. However, the amount of snow and ice is likely to ramp up substantially farther to the east.

A wintry mix occurred as far to the south as northern Louisiana and central Mississippi thus far.

During Friday afternoon, the transition from rain to ice and snow is in store from northern Alabama and middle Tennessee to central and eastern Kentucky, central and southeastern Ohio, northwestern Pennsylvania and western New York

Static Ice Map 2 pm

During Friday evening, the change to ice and snow will occur from southwestern Pennsylvania to much of West Virginia, eastern Kentucky, the Virginia Panhandle and eastern Tennessee.

Static Friday Night Noon

The amount of snow, will increase farther to the northeast from eastern Kentucky to eastern Ohio, part of West Virginia, western Pennsylvania, western New York and southern Ontario.

Static Snowstorm 3 pm

Enough snow to shovel and plow is likely in Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, Akron and Youngstown, Ohio; Erie and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Buffalo, New York.

However, a slight westward or eastward shift in the track of the storm and the progression of the cold air may cause the heavy snow areas to shift correspondingly.

Static Snowfall Map 3 pm

Regardless, ravel will become slippery and dangerous along vast stretches of Interstate 24, I-40, I-55, I-64, I-65, I-69, I-70, I-71, I-75, I-77, I-79, I-80 and I-90.

Because of rapidly falling temperatures during and after the storm, wet and slushy areas are likely to freeze solid. Crews and property owners in may not be able to remove all of the snow and ice before the freeze-up.

As snow and sleet diminish, temperatures will plunge into the teens in some areas. Temperatures may recover very little on Saturday, especially near and north of the Ohio River. In this area, temperatures are forecast to drop into the single digits Saturday night.

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However, even in Memphis, areas of ice may remain through the weekend, since temperatures will stay below freezing on Saturday, drop into the teens Saturday night and barely get to 32 degrees on Sunday.

Through the weekend, dangerous travel by car or foot may continue, and airline delays and flight cancellations may linger in the region.

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