Late-week storm may threaten heavy snow, ice and flooding in midwestern and northeastern US
By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
January 10, 2018, 3:38:34 AM EST
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A storm will produce a swath of snow, ice and rain and raise the potential for flooding in parts of the midwestern and northeastern United States spanning Friday and Saturday.
The storm will follow the potential for blizzard conditions from another storm from the Plains to the Upper Midwest from Wednesday to Thursday.
The late-week storm will track along the boundary separating surging warmth and a new push of arctic air.
Flooding risk to accompany rain, travel delays in coastal Northeast
The combination of surging temperatures, drenching rain and melting snow will accelerate a thaw that will already be underway from the Appalachians to the Atlantic coast.
At the very least, travelers and property owners should be prepared for poor drainage area flooding beginning on Friday.
Rain and low clouds will affect the major airport hubs of Atlanta and Charlotte, North Carolina, on Friday.
Farther northeast, the hubs from Washington, D.C., to Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City and Boston are likely to experience significant delays from periods of drenching rain, fog and breezy conditions from Thursday night to Friday night.
On Saturday, stormy conditions may linger in New York City for the first part of the day and perhaps much of the day in Boston.
"While most stream and river levels are running low due to prior dry conditions, a surge of water is in store and may be aggravated by ice flows and jams," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jim Andrews.
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"Low-lying, unprotected areas along the rivers may be at risk for flooding in the Northeast with this event this weekend," Andrews said.
Track of storm to determine swath of accumulating snow, damaging ice in Midwest
How far east the storm tracks will determine the orientation of a stripe of accumulating snow and a buildup of ice for areas north and west of the Appalachians.
At this time, AccuWeather meteorologists expect the storm to form over the lower Mississippi or Tennessee Valley and travel northeastward.
"It appears the storm is more likely to track west of the Appalachians, rather than right over the Appalachians," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.
There is the potential for a swath of heavy snow or a buildup of ice north and west of the storm track.
"At this point, it looks like just enough cold air will invade the storm to create a major problem for travel beginning from central northeastern Arkansas and western Tennessee to northern Maine and southern Quebec and northwestern New Brunswick," Doll said.
Some areas may receive three forms of wintry precipitation.
Whether precipitation falls primarily as freezing rain, sleet or snow will have a tremendous impact for travel and electrical power concerns.
"In the worst case scenario, a heavy buildup of ice followed by snow and rapidly plunging temperatures may bring down trees and power lines and shut down travel," Doll said.
This can occur anywhere in the swath from part of the lower-Mississippi Valley to the St. Lawrence Valley. However, parts of western, central and northern New York state may be especially hard-hit.
Sleet and snow may not adhere to power lines. However, freezing rain will and a duo of freezing rain followed by snow may be much worse, due to the added weight.
Where the air becomes cold enough, fast enough through a deep layer of the atmosphere, all or mostly snow will fall on the far northwestern flank of the storm with the potential for several inches.
"St. Louis, Indianapolis and Detroit may be a mess with some sort of icy combination," Doll said.
Should the storm travel farther east, near the spine of the Appalachians, the stripe of snow and ice would shift farther east.
In this potential track along the Appalachians, heavy snow may fall from Nashville, Tennessee, to Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Buffalo, New York.
However, even with a track farther west as Doll stated, the tail end of the storm may bring some sort of snow and/or ice and/or a rapid freeze-up to parts of the Tennessee and Ohio valleys to the Appalachians.
"We expect temperatures to rapidly plunge in coastal areas of the Northeast on Saturday afternoon and night," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dave Dombek. "That means that remaining areas of slush and standing water will freeze."
AccuWeather will continue to provide updates on the storm and the likelihood of its major impacts through this week.
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