lots of snow, ice and strong winds to come

A snow storm could wreak havoc in a large corridor of Eastern United States on the weekend, bringing copious amounts of snow, ice, heavy rain and gusts of wind throughout the east coast and in inland areas. Winter storm warnings have been issued in many locations: Roanoke, Virginia; Charleston, West Virginia; Pittsburgh; and Binghamton and Syracuse, New York are just some of the places where the warnings are in effect. In Roanoke and Charleston, snow can mix or turn to ice at the height of the storm.

An outbreak of cold air behind a powerful storm over Atlantic Canada later this week will lead to severe winter weather as a storm plunges south through the Midwest before reaching the Southeast and then veering north-northeast along or just inland from the Atlantic coast. “It appears that a very strong storm will unleash very significant snow in the inland parts of the Northeast, particularly from the Appalachians to the upstate New York and northern New England.“Said Jon Porter, AccuWeather’s chief meteorologist.

Between Sunday 16 and Monday 17 January, the storm has the potential to bring a period of heavy snow on its cold north-western flank and heavy rains or heavy snows changing to rain on its warmer south-eastern flank. The impending storm is expected to bring 30-45cm of snow in the Appalachians while only a small amount of snow is likely in Atlanta, Washington DC and New York City. Major traffic changes are expected due to bad weather during the weekend.

During the peak of the storm, in parts of the central Appalachians and at the start of the storm near the Atlantic coast, snow may fall at a rate of 2.5-7.5cm per hour. A rate of this intensity can quickly bury roads and overload road personnel, especially along roads prone to heavy traffic. Snow is likely to fall for the duration of the storm in parts of the Appalachians.

Even in some areas where mostly rain is expected along I-95 in the Mid Atlantic and parts of New England, a few inches of snow can accumulate, with the risk of ice. However, AccuWeather forecasters noted that a shift in the storm’s trajectory of 80km will affect the outcome. “If the storm manages to move approximately 80km from the coast as it heads north, the cities of I-95 from Washington DC, Philadelphia, New York and Boston could be snow-buried with little or no rain and ice.“Said Bill Deger, AccuWeather Meteorologist. If so, a full-fledged nor’easter would develop, and even blizzard conditions could develop along the I-95 corridor.

If the storm takes a trajectory much farther west of I-95, the heaviest snow will instead fall along the western slopes of the Appalachians to parts of the Ohio Valley and part of the Great Lakes region, although AccuWeather forecasters say that this scenario appears less likely. Rain would spread from the I-95 corridor to areas well north and west.

Even the ice and the rain freezing they could be a major problem from northern Georgia to Virginia as the winter storm moves north from Saturday night to Sunday night. Travel conditions could become treacherous on the region’s major highways, including those around Charlotte and Raleigh, North Carolina; Greenville and Columbia, South Carolina; and Atlanta. Prolonged blackouts are also possible.

But that is not all. As the storm moves north-northeast along the Atlantic coast, other dangers are likely to arise. The intensifying winds will lead to a period of coastal flooding and beach erosion. On the southeastern edge of the storm, thunderstorms may become strong enough to cause severe weather from Florida to coastal Carolina and possibly Long Island, New York and eastern New England.

The storm has the potential to block travelers on highways and airports as they commute for the long US holiday weekend.

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