Heavy snow, ice, rain and thunderstorms will hit travel hard across the south-central United States from Friday to Saturday, with the worst likely from late Friday to Saturday afternoon.
Old Man Winter will deal a swath of heavy snow, ice, rain and thunderstorms that will hit travel hard across the south-central United States from Friday to Saturday with the worst of the storm likely from late Friday to Saturday afternoon.
The storm has the potential to bring enough snow and ice to shut down travel for a time to the southern Plains to the middle part of the Mississippi Valley and a portion of the Tennessee Valley.
“For many areas, this will be a long-duration storm, lasting two days in many cases,” according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson.
In some areas, the weight of the wet snow and ice may bring down trees and lead to regional power outages.
Shipping originating from, passing through or ending up in this swath may be adversely affected.
At this juncture, areas from the northern part of the Texas Panhandle and the Oklahoma Panhandle to the southern tier of Kansas, northern Oklahoma and southern Missouri have the best chance of a heavy snowfall on the order of 3-6 inches.
This zone of all or mostly snow may be approximately bounded by Interstate 40 and U.S. Route 54.
Where little or no sleet and freezing rain mix in, there is the potential for 6-12 inches of snow from this single storm. Amarillo, Texas; Ponca City, Oklahoma; and Springfield, Missouri; may end up in the zone of heaviest snowfall. This heavy snow band may set up near or just south of Wichita, Kansas.
Ice or a wintry mix will be a major part of this storm.
In part of the mix zone, the storm may begin as rain, then transition to ice and snow or alternate between all three forms of precipitation as colder air arrives.
Areas from northwestern Texas to central and southern Oklahoma to northern and central Arkansas are likely to fall within the icy, wintry mix portion of the storm. However, parts of northwest Texas and northwestern Oklahoma are likely to transition from ice to heavy snow at the height of the storm.
“While a few inches of snow may not seem like much, the combination of snow, sleet and freezing rain can be extremely difficult to remove and very dangerous to venture through,” according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Maggie Samuhel.
Cities that may be hit hard with a heavy icy or wintry mix include Childress, Texas; Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma; Fort Smith, Arkansas; and Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
Areas from Wichita Falls, Texas, to Little Rock, Arkansas, and Memphis, Tennessee, may transition to an icing event.
Rain may lead to flooding in Deep South
Farther south, in areas from much of central and eastern Texas to Louisiana and southern Arkansas, rain may be heavy enough to cause urban flooding.
Cities that may experience enough rain for travel difficulties and flash flooding include Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio, Texas; Little Rock, Texarkana and Pine Bluff, Arkansas; and New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport, Louisiana.
At this time, a widespread outbreak of severe thunderstorms is not anticipated with this storm. However, some of the storms may become strong enough to produce damaging wind gusts and isolated tornadoes, in addition to the potential for flash flooding.
The greatest risk of severe weather that includes the possibility of a few isolated tornadoes is over portions of central and South Texas on Friday afternoon and evening.
It may be best for timeliness and safety for cross-country shipping and travel interests to seek an alternative route farther north, such as I-70 or I-80, or south such as I-20 or I-10, even though there will be some rain-related delays across the Deep South.
Snow, ice to winterize Tennessee and Kentucky and aim farther East
Farther east, the storm will continue to produce a swath of ice and snow on its northern flank.
A substantial amount of freezing rain, sleet and snow is anticipated over portions of Tennessee and Kentucky with the potential for enough snow to shovel and plow in the southern portions of Illinois and Indiana.
Drenching rain, flooding and locally strong thunderstorms will advance eastward south of I-40, east of the Mississippi River.
The details on the wintry and flooding aspect of the storm for the southern Appalachians to the southern Atlantic coast are beginning to unfold. This could be a blockbuster storm for the interior Southeast.
However, parts of central and western North Carolina, northwestern South Carolina, northeastern Georgia, southern West Virginia and southern Virginia should be preparing for major winter storm, travel difficulties and disruptions to daily activities from Saturday to Monday. Part of this area may be on the receiving end of 1-3 feet of snow.
The worst of the wintry side of the storm in the Southeast states is likely to focus on parts of the I-81 and I-85 corridors.
“The effects of the multi-faceted storm, in particular, power and travel, may linger for days in some areas after the last flakes and bits of ice occur,” Samuhel said. “Many of the areas set to receive snow and ice from this storm are ill-equipped to handle a small amount, let alone the amount anticipated from this storm.”