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Snowstorm to strike Appalachians to mid-Atlantic coast this weekend

By Alex Sosnowski • Jan 11, 2019 at 4:41 PM

A weekend snowstorm, which may be the biggest of the season for some cities, will slow down travel in the mid-Atlantic, while a wintry mix causes disruptions farther south.

A long-duration winter storm is foreseen for parts of West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and North Carolina. Snow is forecast to spread quickly eastward with the storm early in the weekend, and may linger into early Monday in some areas.

Snow will spread across much of the central Appalachians on Saturday morning. Snow will then spread farther to the east across the mid-Atlantic during Saturday afternoon, while a wintry mix and rain advance across the South.

Before the storm arrives in the East, moderate to heavy snow will first spread across a wide swath of the Midwest. Ripple-effect flight delays and cancellations are possible prior to the storm's arrival across the mid-Atlantic.

The Norwalk, Ohio area won’t receive much snow, however — less than 2 inches of accumulation is predicted.

Heaviest snow likely along I-64, I-81 and I-95 in Virginia

Travel along much of the Interstate 64 and 70 corridors is likely to be slow, slippery and difficult where the core of the heaviest and steadiest snow is forecast to occur. Similarly, travel along much of I-81 from Maryland to Tennessee is expected to be wintry with snow along much of the route. Significant snow is also anticipated along a portion of I-95 in Virginia.

A general 3 to 6 inches of snow is forecast from West Virginia to southeastern Maryland with local amounts to a foot possible over the Appalachians and perhaps 8 inches in part of of east-central Virginia.

Some snow is also expected to fall farther north across the Pennsylvania and New Jersey turnpikes to portions of I-80.

Dry, cold air is expected to limit or prevent snow from falling much farther north than I-80 with this storm. Any snowfall farther north is likely to be light and/or brief.

Similarly, the pattern does not favor the storm making a sharp enough northward turn along the coast to send heavy or long-duration snow into New England.

No snow is forecast in the swath from Albany, New York, to Boston with the storm this weekend. That means that dry and cold conditions are in store for the NFL playoff game in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on Sunday afternoon.

Enough snow to shovel and plow is anticipated in Washington, D.C.; Roanoke, Fredericksburg and Charlottesville, Virginia; Charleston, Beckley and Morgantown, West Virginia; Hagerstown and Salisbury, Maryland; and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

Major flight delays and cancellations are likely with snow-covered roads around Washington, D.C., even though a blockbuster storm is not anticipated. However, while only a few inches of snow are forecast for the nation's capital, this amount would eclipse the biggest single-snowfall of the season of 1.4 inches that fell on Nov. 15.

A light accumulation of snow is forecast in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia with the focus of the storm on slippery travel in these locations. However, some delays are likely due to deicing operations at these two major hubs, while flight delays and cancellations can occur throughout the U.S. as crews and aircraft are likely to be displaced due to the storm in the Midwest.

New York City will be on the northern edge of the snow with dry conditions likely over the Hudson Valley and across much of Connecticut to an inch or so across central New Jersey.

Icy, wintry mix expected in parts of North Carolina, southeastern Virginia

Fluctuating temperatures, above and below freezing at different layers of the atmosphere, will cause a variety of precipitation in North Carolina, northwestern South Carolina, northeastern Georgia and southeastern Virginia with the storm.

As one storm from the Midwest weakens as it approaches the southern Appalachians, a new storm will develop along the Atlantic coast and take over before heading out to sea.

During the handoff, disruptions in the steady precipitation may occur, which may allow temperatures to rise for a time. However, as the coastal storm strengthens, it may pull colder air southward on Sunday and cause some areas to change from rain to ice and ice to snow.

A wintry mix that includes snow, ice and rain is anticipated along portions of I-40, I-77 and I-85.

A significant winter storm is forecast for Richmond, Virginia, and Winston-Salem, Asheville and Hickory, North Carolina, with a combination of snow, sleet and freezing rain that will cause dangerous travel and may lead to regional power outages. Since just enough mild air will intervene during the storm, an all-out snowstorm is not expected in these areas.

However, accumulating snow could pivot in from the Midwest over the southern Appalachians for a time Sunday night and Monday.

A bit of ice may occur at the onset of the storm in Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina, and perhaps Greenville, South Carolina.Even though some colder air may seep back in late in the storm, it may not be enough to bring a change from rain to ice or snow on Sunday. The primary form of precipitation in these areas is expected to be rain.

Farther south, one or two periods of rain are expected from southern and eastern North Carolina to much of South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. It is possible that brief, heavy, gusty thunderstorms will swing through some locations. Direct weather-related delays due to downpours and low clouds are likely in Atlanta.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Alex Sosnowski is an AccuWeather senior meteorologist.

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