The Weather Prediction Center (WPC) describes this as a “significant winter storm”. As of this morning, nearly 25 million people are under some kind of winter storm warning.
The first will be a smaller wave today with a little less impact, mostly just a quick blow of snow or some wintery mix. Then, just behind, on Tuesday, another larger explosion will cross the same areas. And it will leave a mark.
Another system will cross the country later this week.
But above all. Snow will begin to affect northern states today. Snow in the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest will be heavy, with snowfall rates of one inch per hour at times.
“Increased wind can lead to significant snow blowing and drifting,” the WPC said.
This could lead to blizzard-like conditions in this region, including places like Minneapolis.
This will create dangerous travel conditions and possible delays at airports.
“Total snowfall amounts will likely exceed six inches from the Dakotas in the upper Great Lakes,” the WPC said. “More than 12 inches is possible in some areas over the two days.”
Ice is also possible for some locations in southern Michigan and southern Wisconsin. However, forecasts are still a bit uncertain on exactly where the ice will settle. The hardest hit areas could see up to a quarter inch of ice.
There could be sporadic power outages and downed trees due to icy conditions…not to mention treacherous road conditions, as even a thin layer of ice and snow can cause nightmares and traffic jams.
Just a quarter inch of ice can add enormous weight to power lines, causing stress and damage and, often, power outages.
For major cities along the I-95 corridor, this system will bring all the rain. The bulk will impact the region on Wednesday, with winds sometimes blowing up to 35 mph.
Storms and floods
Places like Oklahoma City, Dallas, Little Rock and even Memphis could experience strong to severe storms Monday afternoon and evening.
On Tuesday, the threat slides a little further east and includes much of the southern Mississippi Valley. Jackson, Mississippi, Memphis and Nashville will all have to be on the lookout for severe storms on Tuesday.
“In addition to severe thunderstorms, heavy rain is also a threat across much of the southern United States this week,” CNN meteorologist Haley Brink said. “Heavy rainfall of 1.5 inches per hour will create mostly localized areas of flash flooding through Tuesday.”
Nearly 70% of the country will drop below zero this week
“Record cold temperatures will be possible today through Thursday across the northern Rockies, northern Plains and Midwest,” Brink said. “High temperatures in the north-central United States will be in the single digits today, with some places dropping below zero.”
The cold will also persist for much of the week, before we start to see a rebound in temperatures.
As the cold air moves south, states along the Gulf Coast will even feel the chill of winter. Parts of Texas could wake up to sub-zero temperatures Wednesday morning.
While it’s chilly for the South, it’s a far cry from the -20 and -30 the Dakotas and Minnesota will wake up to on Wednesday and Thursday mornings.
“When you factor in the winds, the ‘felt’ temperatures in these areas could approach -50 degrees,” Brink said. “Chilblains can occur within 10 minutes under these conditions.”
Second weekend winter system
Just as you try to recover from the first system, prepare for the next. With so much cold air in place from the first storm system, there will be plenty of opportunities for snow and ice further south.
The winter system will set in in the Rockies, bringing a quick snowfall. Then, by Thursday and Friday, it will bring snow to places as far south as Oklahoma and even Texas. However, the heaviest snow will extend from Kansas to Missouri to Indiana.
We could even see significant icing in southern Missouri and northern Arkansas, if forecast models remain consistent.
This system will also have an impact on the major cities of the Northeast. On Friday, we could see snow in places like Boston, and even winter mix in New York. Speaking of Boston, it could go from highs in the upper 60s on Tuesday to snow and highs in the 30s on Thursday.
It’s still far too early to polish the details of this one, but it will definitely be something to watch as we enter the final part of the week.