Snow, icy mix to plunge deep into south-central US early this week
By Kristina Pydynowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
January 16, 2018, 4:16:13 AM EST
A fresh plunge of arctic air threatens to allow snow, an icy mix and treacherous travel to unfold deep across the south-central United States through Tuesday night.
"A storm dropping into the Midwest and Northeast will open the gates for colder air to spill into the southern U.S. early this week," AccuWeather Meteorologist Faith Eherts said. "This surge of cold air will be accompanied by some wintry precipitation as well."
The cold front ushering in the frigid air will sweep a band of snow and icy mix from Texas to Tennessee and Alabama and far northern Georgia into Tuesday.
A coating to a couple inches of snow is expected to whiten Dallas; Little Rock, Arkansas; Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville, Tennessee; Huntsville and Birmingham, Alabama; and Jackson, Mississippi.
There may be locally 3-5 inches of snow from the northeastern corner of Texas to southern Arkansas, and part of northwestern Mississippi further making travel difficult on Interstate 30 and U.S. Route 65.
The snow may first start as a period of ice along the I-20 corridor.
As the cold air continues to plunge southward into Tuesday night, so will the snow and icy mix.
Rain will change to freezing rain and/or ice pellets (sleet) in Austin and San Antonio, Texas, on Monday night, and in Houston and Laredo, Texas, on Tuesday.
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While any freezing rain is not expected to accrue enough for widespread power outages, just a coating of snow or ice is enough to make untreated roads slick in an area where high temperatures this time of year generally average in the 50s and 60s.
Untreated roads and sidewalks that are initially wet will turn icy as temperatures plummet. Bridges and overpasses would be the first to turn slippery.
Residents should prepare for disruptions to daily routines, including school delays or cancellations. The wintry weather and deicing operations may significantly delay airline passengers.
During Tuesday night, rain may mix with or change to a bit of freezing drizzle or sleet in deep South Texas. Warmth stored up in the pavement may keep any glaze of ice limited to elevated surfaces, such as power lines, railings and vehicles, in Corpus Christi and McAllen, Texas.
However, if temperatures continue to plummet and precipitation lingers long enough, slick spots may develop on roads and sidewalks.
Even in areas that avoid a coating of ice or snow on roads, wet areas can freeze at night as temperatures drop below freezing throughout the South Central states.
The cold will threaten sensitive plants left outdoors across southern Texas. Sea turtles will once again be at risk for being stunned by the cold.
“Residents of cities such as Little Rock, Arkansas; Nashville, Tennessee; and Birmingham, Alabama, should be prepared for winter weather,” Eherts said.
While snow is forecast to dodge Atlanta, snow will spread form Virginia to much of North Carolina Tuesday night and Wednesday.
Frigid air will sweep across a much larger area of the southern U.S. than where the snow and ice will fall.
Highs for one or two days spanning Tuesday to Thursday will be held below freezing from Oklahoma to the Tennessee Valley and the 30s and 40s from Texas to the Carolinas, including northern Florida.
Nighttime temperatures will plunge well into the 20s across northern Florida on Wednesday night. Sensitive plants may also be threatened across the interior of central Florida, including the Orlando area, as temperatures can dip below freezing.
The impending cold snap may lead to a repeat of the frigid overnight lows from earlier this month but may be quicker to release its grip in many communities.
“Residents should make sure that vehicles, including tires, are in good shape, heaters are in working order and ensure that outdoor animals have proper shelter,” Eherts said. Remember to keep any space heaters away from other items.
Following the departure of this storm, attention will turn toward a new system that may bring another period of wintry weather to Texas later this week.
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