A mix of wintry conditions is expected to impact tens of millions of people across different regions of the U.S. over the holiday weekend, including snow and ice in parts of the Southeast as the storm is forecast to plunge through Virginia and Kentucky, reaching as far south as Georgia.
The storm will charge in a little more than a week after two storms brought traffic-snarling snowfall to the Southeast. This time, however, the winter weather will bring more than just the threat of snow for areas farther south than just Kentucky.
Atlanta hasn’t recorded measurable snow for more than 1,450 days, the second-longest streak in the city’s history, but that streak may end this weekend with the upcoming storm. Outside of the mountains, only an inch of snowfall is likely to fall over northern Georgia, but that’s more than enough to make the roads slick as well as break the snowless streak, which would happen should more than 0.1 of an inch of snow accumulate.
The biggest threat in the Southeast from this storm, however, will be from freezing rain, AccuWeather forecasters caution.
“While much is going to be said about the snow across much of the central and eastern part of the country with our latest winter storm,” AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Jonathan Porter said, “I want to make sure we don’t lose track of the significant ice storm risk.” Porter pointed to “parts of North and South Carolina as well as portions of Virginia where amounts could easily exceed half an inch of ice” as places that could face the biggest threat from icy precipitation.
The ice could also contribute to power outages and significant tree damage, Porter added.
“This situation is similar to a number of previous ice storms across the region, and for that reason, we at AccuWeather are increasingly concerned about a major ice storm from northern Georgia through the Carolinas and into central Virginia,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Randy Adkins said. “The area of greatest risk appears to be from upstate South Carolina through western Piedmont of North Carolina … potentially including Charlotte.”
Up to an inch of snowfall is forecast for the Queen City, though that, as well as a thick glaze of ice, will be more than enough to create dangerous driving conditions.
Extended power outages are possible in this region as tree limbs snap and power lines are weighed down by ice accumulation. People who live in this zone should prepare sooner rather than later for potential power outages that last into the start of next week.
Nashville, Tennessee, and Lexington, Kentucky, won’t be free of any snowfall this weekend either. Both cities have already picked up more than their average seasonal snowfall to date after the last few storms, Nashville currently recording 8 inches and Lexington close to 10 inches.
“Heavy snow is once again a concern for Kentucky and Virginia, though the extent is still somewhat unclear,” Adkins said. “At this juncture, the area at greatest risk for receiving heavy snow is across eastern Kentucky and western Virginia, particularly northwestern portions of Virginia.
Depending on how the chips fall with the track of the storm, snowfall could total around a foot for some of these areas, according to Adkins.
Little Rock, Arkansas; Tupelo, Mississippi; and Birmingham, Alabama; are also likely to see some snow. While there won’t be piles upon piles of snow, up to an inch of a wintry mix on the roads will be enough to possibly complicate travel plans.
Even a small amount of snow and/or ice on the roads can lead to dangerous travel from the Interstate 20 corridor northward to I-64. While some ice is possible across the I-95 corridor in Virginia, it’s likely to transition into rain, limiting the magnitude of the ice event in the area, according to Adkins. He added that only a thin glaze of ice is needed to create extremely hazardous driving conditions.
“Cold air could make for a wintry mess for many, regardless of the intensity of the precipitation,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Matt Benz said, referring to the expected impact across Arkansas to Virginia.
The snowfall totals around Nashville, Tennessee, will be strongly determined by where the storm tracks across the Mississippi Valley and the Southeast, according to Adkins. While snow and rain are currently both in the forecast for the area, a shift in the track could “drastically” alter how much of each Nashville receives.