Stormy pattern unfolding in south-central US could lead to multiple snow, ice threats
A group of neighbors in Amarillo, Texas, gathered together to create a ferocious snow dragon after wintry weather hit the area on Jan. 24.
Multiple rounds of wintry precipitation could snarl travel over portions of the southern Plains and Mississippi Valley this week, as several storms develop and move through the region over a five-day period, according to AccuWeather meteorologists.
At least three storms will be responsible for the threat of ice and snow from Sunday through Thursday. The storms will tap into abundant moisture coming off the Gulf of Mexico, and colder air rushing south from the northern Plains and Midwest.
The precipitation in some areas will be nearly constant and only separated by brief breaks as dry air tries to move into the area. That dry air will not be fully successful in establishing itself until late in the week.
"Cold air will plunge far enough south to set up a weather battle zone much of the week," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. "The dividing line between the cold to the north and warm air to the south will set up an active storm track where multiple storms will move through."
The corridor where accumulating snow or ice is most likely this week, from northern Texas and Oklahoma east to the mid-Mississippi and Tennessee valleys, just experienced a heavy snow event earlier this week. Up to 16 inches of snow was reported in the Ozarks of Arkansas.
A cold front cutting across the Plains and Midwest and establishing a colder pattern over the nation's heartland will provide the first chance of some snow and ice through Sunday night, as low pressure develops over the region. The biggest concern is for a glaze of ice that could cause dangerous travel conditions from eastern Oklahoma into northwestern Arkansas and southern Missouri. A light accumulation of snow will also be possible.
The same storm system is being referred to as an Alberta clipper farther north as it has spread a swath of heavy snow through the Great Lakes, impacting cities such as Milwaukee and Toronto.
As the first storm begins to exit through the Southeast on Monday, the next will already be taking shape over Texas, as moisture and atmospheric energy coalesce over the Lone Star State. Instead of coming in from the north, this developing storm will bring precipitation from the south, which will likely intrude into a zone of subfreezing air from Monday night into Tuesday from northern and central Texas to the mid-Mississippi Valley.
The amount of snow and ice with the second storm could prove to be more significant than the first and could make for major travel disruptions to commutes on Tuesday in places such as Dallas, Oklahoma City, and Fayetteville and Little Rock, Arkansas.
From Wednesday into Thursday, one final storm system is expected to move through nearly the same areas as the Monday and Tuesday storm. While AccuWeather meteorologists say it is too early to provide specifics as far as where exactly there will be snow and ice, in addition to how much will fall, it appears this storm will be substantial enough to potentially cause disruptions to travel and daily life.
"The potential exists for a significant amount of freezing rain and sleet," Sosnowski said about the risk of multiple winter storms over the same area in just a matter of days. "Treacherous travel, as well as downed trees and power lines, will be possible."
Should current forecasts hold, ice could become problematic in places that haven't seen much severe winter weather this month, such as Memphis, Dallas and even as far south as Austin, Texas.
By the end of the week, a drier, chillier pattern will take shape across the South and put an end to the risk of wintry and severe weather for several days, forecasters say.
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