As many as three storms with snow, ice, rain and thunderstorms may affect areas from the South Central states to the Northeast through the weekend and Christmas.
Mother Nature will provide a stormy weather pattern over the next couple of weeks.
While details including timing, track and exact precipitation type for the storms have yet to be determined, the storms will bring enough precipitation to slow travel as they move along.
According to AccuWeather.com Long-Range Expert Paul Pastelok, "The storms will develop in the Southern states and then track northeastward. How far north the storms track into the cold air will determine the extent of snow."
Round One: Scenario for Weekend Storm
A storm is due to affect much of California at midweek with another round of drenching rain and mountain snow.
After crossing the southern Rockies, that California storm will reorganize over Texas on Friday. Rain and thunderstorms will break out over central and southeastern Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.
Depending upon how much moisture is thrown northward into colder air will determine the amount of snow and ice that develops from the southern and central Plains to the middle Mississippi and Ohio valleys during the first part of the weekend.
The storm has the potential to impact holiday shoppers on what could be the biggest shopping day and weekend of the year. According to Bloomberg, with Saturday this year occurring five days before Christmas it has the potential to surpass retails sales from Black Friday.
During Saturday night, the storm will swing across the southern Appalachians, before aiming for the mid-Atlantic coast on Sunday.
How much the storm strengthens will determine how heavy the snow becomes across the interior and how far north and west warm air with rain advances from the ocean.
A weaker storm is more likely to bring some snow or a wintry mix to areas from Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia and New York City and perhaps Boston. In this weaker scenario, a period of snow would still occur over parts of the Ohio Valley and central Appalachians from Indianapolis and Cincinnati to Pittsburgh.
A strong storm could unload very heavy snow from the central Appalachians to perhaps interior New England. Wind-swept rain and coastal flooding could occur in this case along the mid-Atlantic coast. Correspondingly, a strong storm could enhance thunderstorms in the Deep South and along the southern Atlantic Seaboard to the point of bringing severe weather.
Round Two: Storm Near Christmas
Another storm is projected to take shape over the South Central states a couple of days before Christmas and then track northeastward around the holiday itself.
The track and details on this potential storm are unclear, since the storm is a week away from forming and its seeds are still over the Pacific Ocean.
Round Three: Storm Potential Prior to New Year
A third storm may try to take shape during the time from shortly after Christmas to before the New Year holiday.
According to Long-Range Expert Mark Paquette, "While not all of these storms will be a snow threat for the major travel hubs in the Midwest and Northeast, there does not have to be arctic air in place for them to bring at least some snow and ice problems."
While the storm track from the Pacific Ocean will shift north of much of California before Christmas, one storm after another will hit the Northwest with coastal rain and inland and mountain snow.
Despite the stormy pattern, there will be periods between the storms across the nation when travel conditions will improve.
AccuWeather.com will have more information and details on the storms and weather conditions for holiday travel in the coming days.
There is an indication that the stormy pattern will continue to amplify as colder air becomes more extensive moving forward into the first part of the new year, Pastelok and Paquette agreed.