The impending polar blast will set the stage for snow and ice to cause significant disruptions in the South Tuesday through Wednesday.
The arctic cold will plunge into the South Monday through Monday night, leading to highs in the 30s as far south as the I-10 corridor from Houston to Pensacola, Fla., on Tuesday.
With that cold in place, a storm system will tap into moisture from the Gulf of Mexico to allow snow and ice to develop from central Texas to the eastern Carolinas Tuesday through Wednesday.
Houston and San Antonio, Texas, New Orleans, Mobile, Ala., Pensacola and Tallahassee, Fla., Savannah and Augusta, Ga., Myrtle Beach and Columbia, S.C., and Raleigh, Wilmington and the Outer Banks of North Carolina lie within this zone.
Sleet could even make an appearance in Jacksonville.
While the rare snow will be a welcome sight for children and those young at heart, this will be a major winter storm for the I-10 corridor and the eastern Carolinas.
The amount of snow and ice (whether falling as sleet/ice pellets or freezing rain) could be substantial, leading to school closures, extremely treacherous travel and flight cancellations.
Residents and travelers should prepare for significant disruptions. This includes motorists planning to travel on Interstates 10, 40, 45, 65, 75 and 95.
Snow totals will top 3 inches from southeastern Alabama to eastern North Carolina. This zone stretches across Augusta, Ga., Columbia, S.C., and Fayetteville, S.C., and lies just east of Raleigh.
Accumulating snow should narrowly miss Atlanta and Charlotte.
In between the snow and plain rain across the Florida Peninsula will be substantial sleet and freezing rain. Power outages are a serious concern, especially where the majority of the winter storm produces freezing rain.
The winter storm could linger along the Carolina coast for a time Thursday before heading out to sea.
The storm should not turn northward and graze the Northeast. The impending arctic blast will instead push the storm track well offshore, offering protection to the Northeast.
Residents across the South are urged to continue checking back with AccuWeather.com for the latest on the impending winter storm as more details become clearer.