Ice to pose travel hazards in southern US during New Year's Day weekend
By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
January 01, 2018, 3:15:09 AM EST
An area of freezing drizzle, freezing rain and sleet will create dangerous travel in parts of the Southern states during the New Year's Day weekend.
A shallow push of arctic air and lingering moisture will lead to a small but dangerous amount of ice over portions of the southern Plains to the lower Mississippi Valley.
A similar set up triggered a dangerous glaze of ice in Charleston, South Carolina, early Friday morning, and forced the closure of several major bridges into and out of the city.
"How much, if any, freezing rain or drizzle occurs over the holiday weekend will depend on how forcefully dry, Arctic air moves in," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski.
A weak push of cold, dry air may not overwhelm the moisture enough to prevent spotty freezing rain and drizzle centered on the Interstate 20 corridor from northern Texas to Alabama through Monday morning.
A sliver of icy conditions may also extend all the way to the Georgia coast on Sunday night.
If cold air blasts in, the air will likely be too dry for precipitation in the I-20 zone. However, that could create a narrow swath of ice near I-10 from Texas to northern Florida.
At the very least, there will be patches of black ice in the region from this weekend through early Monday morning. The risk of black ice will settle southward over time during the weekend.
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Some icy conditions are possible on New Year's Day in the upper part of the Rio Grande Valley, as well as central Texas.
"We want to alert people for the potential for enough ice to glaze roads and sidewalks at a time when millions may be traveling to or from holiday destinations," Pydynowski said.
People should exercise caution when walking or driving as some surfaces that appear to be wet may be icy in this setup. Bridges, overpasses and areas that do not typically get direct sunshine are typically the first to freeze.
AccuWeather meteorologists do not anticipate enough of a buildup of ice to bring down trees and power lines in any case over the I-20 corridor with this event.
Regardless of any ice during the holiday weekend, a reinforcing blast of Arctic air will settle in for the start of 2018. Much colder air will press southward across the Florida Peninsula, which has escaped the blasts of Arctic air thus far.
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