A storm has the potential to deliver heavy snow, causing slippery travel along a 1,000-mile swath in the southern United States spanning Friday and Saturday.
Arctic air will plunge into the Southern states by midweek and will lay the path for the winter storm to travel upon.
A storm, which will first deliver up to 3 feet of snow over the Sierra Nevada in California through midweek, will move across Texas on Thursday.
The storm will then ride along the southern edge of the arctic air in the Southeast.
"How strong the storm becomes will affect its ability to throw precipitation into the cold air over the region to end the week," according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Mike Doll.
The exact track of the storm would also be a factor and could cause the area of heaviest snow to shift farther to the north or to the south.
At this time, the area at greatest risk for some snow, a wintry mix or flash freeze includes the cities of Jackson, Mississippi; Birmingham, Alabama; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Atlanta; Charlotte, Winston-Salem and Raleigh, North Carolina; and Richmond, Virginia.
"The realm of possibilities range from a simple change to cold air and dry conditions to snow, ice and dangerous travel over the interior South in areas that typically receive little or no snow during the winter," Doll said.
In the scenario where a storm forms but fails to become very strong, spotty snow and ice can cause slippery travel around some southern U.S. communities from Friday into Saturday.
Should the storm develop to its full potential, then several inches of snow and some ice could occur from parts of northern Georgia to upstate South Carolina, central and northern North Carolina, central and southeastern Virginia, lower Maryland and southern Delaware.
In the extreme case, travel and activities could be disrupted for days during and in the wake of the storm in the southern U.S.
"With the strong storm scenario, there is also the possibility that snow could spread farther north along the Atlantic coast, perhaps to New Jersey, southeastern New York and New England," Doll said.
If the storm remains weak and hugs the Gulf coast before skipping out to sea in the Atlantic, then little or no frozen precipitation would occur, Doll stated.
In the absence of a major snow and ice storm, a period of heavy rain and thunderstorms will progress eastward along the Gulf coast on Friday to the southern Atlantic seaboard on Saturday.
Regardless, freezing air is likely to stop short of reaching the immediate Gulf coast, South Texas and the central and southern parts of Florida in the wake of the storm.