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Rapid Freeze-Up to Threaten Thursday Commute From NYC to DC

Following above-normal warmth early this week, temperatures will plummet dramatically across the I-95 corridor of the Northeast on Wednesday night. Such drastic temperature drops will set the stage for a rapid freeze-up on roadways and promote conditions conducive for pothole development and even water main breaks.

Temperatures will plummet by as much as 40 degrees Fahrenheit in less than 24 hours along the I-95 corridor from New York City and Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. Following Wednesday, highs in the upper 50s in New York City, upper 60s in Philadelphia and low 70s in Washington, D.C., lows will drop into the 20s in these major cities on Wednesday night.

Any wet or slushy areas could freeze up rapidly on roads, creating slippery and hazardous travel conditions Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Sidewalks could also turn icy and treacherous.

Besides creating dangerous icy spots, the temperature swings can lead to other concerns for motorists.

"With the rapid thaw then freeze this week, (new) potholes will be a concern," AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams said.

Already with the icy grips of winter followed by major thaws, potholes are a widespread problem in the major I-95 cities. Late in February, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio set aside $7.3 million to facilitate and accelerate the extraordinary number of road repairs needed this winter.

"Water mains may also break as the temperature roller coaster occurs," Abrams said.

So far, temperatures in March are averaging well below normal across the Midwest and Northeast.

Temperature Departures in March (as of March 11, 2014)

City
Temperature Departure From Normal
Chicago
Minus 10.3 F
Detroit
Minus 11.1 F
Indianapolis
Minus 8.8
Minneapolis
Minus 11.4
New York City
Minus 6.6 F
Philadelphia
Minus 6.5 F
Washington, D.C.
Minus 5.4 F

Temperatures will moderate back to normal across the Midwest and Northeast by late in the week, before yet another cold blast arrives over the weekend.

While there will be frequent swings in temperatures moving forward in March, the cold spells are likely to be more punctuated.