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Major Storm to Spread Heavy Snow, Ice From Southern Plains to the Appalachians Late-Week Into This Weekend
Published: December 5, 2018
A major storm will spread a widespread mess of snow, sleet and freezing rain from the southern Plains to the Ozarks and the southern Appalachians late this week into early next week.
The storm system is currently pushing into California and will produce lower-elevation rain and mountain snow there through Thursday.
Current Radar and Satellite
From Friday into early next week, the storm will unleash its heaviest amounts of snow and ice as it moves farther eastward while interacting with cold air supplied by high pressure to its north. The snow and ice could cause significant travel disruption from parts of the southern Plains to the southern Appalachians. Ice accumulations in some areas may be heavy enough for tree damage and power outages, as well.
Winter storm watches have been issued by National Weather Service in parts of the Texas Panhandle and western/central Oklahoma. Those watches include Amarillo, Texas, Lubbock, Texas, and Oklahoma City. Additional winter storm watches will likely be issued farther east along the path of this storm in the next day or two.
Winter Weather Alerts
We are still a few days away from this system arriving in the Plains and East, so many of the key forecast details remain uncertain, but the odds are increasing for a major storm.
- Snow will fall in California's Sierra Nevada into Wednesday. Travel could be impacted in some of the passes in the region.
- Rain will soak the lower elevations, particularly in the southern portions of the state. Both San Diego and Los Angeles may near an inch of rain.
- Parts of the Four Corners region could then be dealing with snow from this system Thursday and Thursday night.
Rain and Snow Forecast
- Freezing rain will begin to develop from the Texas Panhandle into central Oklahoma. The ice accumulations in this swath could be damaging to power lines and trees.
- By later Friday or Friday night, widespread snow will develop from eastern New Mexico into the northern Texas Panhandle, northwest Oklahoma and southern Kansas.
- Snow, sleet and freezing rain may spread as far east as southern Missouri and northern Arkansas by Friday night.
- Rain, heavy at times, is expected farther south across Texas, Louisiana, southern Arkansas, northern Mississippi and western Tennessee.
- Travel will likely be affected by wet and/or wintry weather on stretches of interstates 40 and 35 in the southern Plains.
- Freezing rain is expected to transition to accumulating snow in the Texas Panhandle and much of western/central Oklahoma. Snow will continue in southern Kansas, as well.
- Snow, sleet and freezing rain will also impact the Ozarks of southern Missouri (mainly snow) and northern Arkansas (mix of snow and ice).
- The snow and ice will also begin to spread into parts of the Ohio Valley, the southern Appalachians and its adjacent Piedmont region by later Saturday or Saturday night.
- There is the potential for wintry travel with snow or ice as far south as northeast Georgia and the Interstate 85 corridor in the Carolinas by Saturday night.
- Snow, heavy at times, will affect the southern half of the Appalachians, including western North Carolina, western Virginia and eastern West Virginia.
- Significant ice or snow could impact parts of the adjacent foothills and Piedmont region, as well.
- Snow or rain mixed with snow could reach into the mid-Atlantic region as far north as the Delmarva Peninsula.
- Farther west, snow or a mix of rain and snow may continue from Ohio Valley into the mid-South region.
- Strong onshore winds may contribute to pounding surf, beach erosion and possible coastal flooding from the southern mid-Atlantic coast to the Outer Banks of North Carolinas, including the Delmarva and Virginia Tidewater.
- Strengthening low pressure off the Southeast coast may allow snow or a rain-and-snow mix to linger from the southern Appalachians and adjacent Piedmont into the Tennessee Valley.
- We will continue to monitor the storm for any potential turn toward the northeastern United States early next week. As of right now, the majority of forecast guidance suggests the low will stay far enough offshore to prevent major impacts in the Northeast. Changes to this portion of the forecast are possible, however.
How Much Snow and Ice?
Snow and ice accumulations from this storm will be expansive, extending from the southern Plains to the Ozarks, Ohio Valley and the southern half of the Appalachian Mountains.
Here's an initial look at what to expect in each region, keeping in mind it's subject to change.
- Snow totals in the southern Plains are forecast to be generally less than 6 inches in the Texas Panhandle, eastern New Mexico, western/central/northern Oklahoma and southern Kansas. Localized amounts could top a half foot in the northern Texas Panhandle and northwest Oklahoma.
- Significant icing, potentially causing tree damage and triggering power outages, is also possible from southern parts of the Texas Panhandle into central Oklahoma. This may include Lubbock and Oklahoma City.
Ozarks, Ohio Valley and Appalachians
- Although it's too early for specifics, accumulating snow and ice is possible from southern Missouri and northern Arkansas into the Ohio Valley, the southern Appalachians and adjacent Piedmont.
- Some of the heaviest snow accumulations from this storm system will be in the southern half of the Appalachians, including western North Carolina, western Virginia and eastern West Virginia. Totals topping a half foot or even a foot are likely in this region.
- Significant ice and snow accumulations could also impact the adjacent foothills and Piedmont, but it's too early for specifics.
- Travel disruption is likely and there could be power outages and tree damage in areas where snow and ice accumulations are heaviest.
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