A major winter storm packed with dangerous snow and ice is on track to reach the Northeast this weekend, one that AccuWeather meteorologists say will deliver the first significant snowfall along the Interstate 95 corridor in nearly two years.
The storm will move across the country first across the southwest through Thursday before moving east, where it will bring heavy rain and thunderstorms to the Gulf Coast states before developing into the first snowstorm of the year along the East Coast.
A storm sweeps the country before the weekend
Late Thursday night into Friday night, a band of heavy rain and localized thunderstorms will begin to impact areas of the Gulf Coast. Continued precipitation could bring drought relief for some, especially for parts of Louisiana and Mississippi where levels of severe to exceptional drought are gripping the region, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
As the storm moves northeastward to the mid-Atlantic coast from Saturday into Sunday, it is expected to strengthen, with snow and ice falling across the mid-Atlantic and southern New England. Forecasters warn that heavy bands of snow could develop from West Virginia and northwest Virginia to the Hudson Valley during this time.
Travel conditions could quickly deteriorate throughout Saturday night and Saturday with snow and ice spreading across the area. Saturday through Sunday, a band of 3 to 6 inches of snow is expected to fall from the Smoky Mountains across much of northern and eastern West Virginia northeastward into southern New England.
Total snowfall between 6 and 12 inches could be collected from higher terrain in eastern West Virginia and central Pennsylvania and into northeastern Massachusetts, with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 20 inches.
“The most significant winter impacts from the storm will be limited to about 12 hours or so from late Saturday into Sunday evening,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Courtney Travis explained.
Motorists are urged to check their local forecasts and stay aware of changing weather conditions before taking to the roads, especially any college students returning to campus since winter break ends this week for some universities.
The snow drought is likely to end in New York City and Philadelphia
After a relatively mild December in parts of the Northeast, this weekend's storm may be a sharp return to reality for some, as the heart of winter quickly approaches. This weekend, millions across the Northeast could face the first winter storm featuring snowfall amounts greater than an inch since early 2022.
“Any snow accumulation can cause significant travel slowdowns, but this storm may have a greater impact than others of similar size because it has been a long time since more than an inch of snow has accumulated in these areas — it may take people a while.” “It's time to get back used to driving and dealing with snow,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist John Porter explained. “This usually happens during the first snow storm of the season, like this season, but it's magnified because it's the first storm in several years.”
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“A few inches of snow or more could fall along the I-95 corridor from Washington, D.C., to Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City and Boston, which would be the most snow some of these cities have seen since early 2022 thanks to multi-year drought,” Porter added. Due to major snow storms in these areas.”
The last time a single storm brought more than an inch of snow to New York City was February 13, 2022, while the last time there was a snowstorm that brought at least an inch of snow to Philadelphia was January 28-29. , 2022.
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Icy forecast raises fears of power outages
As cold air pulls south, a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain could spread over parts of far eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina across eastern West Virginia and western Virginia, but the ice threat is expected to depend primarily on elevation. Locations around the Smoky Mountains to the Blue Ridge Mountains may face the greatest risk of dangerous ice accumulation.
While some elevations could receive a mix of snow and sleet, leaving sidewalks and untreated roads slippery, others could experience mainly freezing rain. The accumulation of ice poses additional risks, including the possibility of broken tree branches and overburdened power lines, leading to power outages.
“Travelers are urged to use extreme caution as roads that appear wet may be covered in a dangerous layer of ice,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Elizabeth Danko noted.
Being prepared with extra batteries, fully charged cell phones, and a generator, if available, will be helpful in the event of a local or widespread power outage.
Residents across parts of the Tennessee and Ohio valleys through New England will want to dust off their snow shovels and snow blowers and make sure their tires have a healthy amount of tread on them before the storm arrives. Additional preparations, such as removing salt and ash from the sidewalk and packing an emergency kit in their car that includes an extra hat, gloves, or scarf, may be helpful.
As the storm turns north along the New England coast by Sunday, the heaviest snow is expected to be concentrated in areas of northern Connecticut, Massachusetts, southern New Hampshire and parts of extreme southern Maine. A separate storm tracking north of the Great Lakes and across southern Canada could also impact how long snow showers last across the interior Northeast, forecasters say.
Another storm on the horizon?
AccuWeather meteorologists warn that another widespread and impactful storm could be on the way next week after this weekend's storm. The feature is expected to shift inland from the West Coast later this weekend and consolidate over the central states by Monday, and could become the next major winter storm.
A corridor of snow, sleet and even an area of blizzard conditions could develop over the center of the country early next week. On the south side of the storm, warm, moist air could collide with cold air rushing south from the Midwest to spark rounds of heavy rain and stormy thunderstorms along the Gulf Coast. Forecasters warn that some storms could become severe with the risk of damaging winds and isolated tornadoes.
Keep checking back with AccuWeather.com over the coming days for the latest weather forecasts across the country as the 2023-2024 winter season continues to ramp up.
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