A winter storm will unload snow ahead of a freeze-up that will threaten to immobilize part of the southern United States this weekend.
During Friday and Saturday, the storm will ride the edge of arctic air that recently invaded much of the nation, including the interior South.
Major disruptions to travel and daily activities are anticipated with this storm due to heavy snow accumulation expected in some areas. Icy roads and sidewalks in other areas will also lead to major slowdowns this weekend and perhaps into early next week.
Slippery runways and deicing activities will likely put airlines behind schedule.
Airline passengers should expect lengthy flight delays and a number of cancellations, including in the major southern hubs of Atlanta and Charlotte, North Carolina. Displaced aircraft and crews could cause ripple-effect delays and flight changes elsewhere in the nation.
The storm will begin as snow showers over part of the lower Mississippi Valley on Friday.
Portions of southern Arkansas, southwestern Tennessee, northern Louisiana and northern Mississippi can receive enough snow to coat the ground and cause icy patches on roads and sidewalks.
Snow will begin to ramp up over portions of central and northern Alabama and southeastern Tennessee to the point where a coating to an inch of snow can occur with more widespread slippery conditions.
Farther east, the storm will strengthen enough to produce a swath of accumulating snow from northern Georgia to the coasts of North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware.
In much of this area, the storm will begin as rain, but a transition to snow is in store with a period of sleet or freezing rain in some locations.
People in the cities of Atlanta and Augusta, Georgia; Columbia and Greenville, South Carolina; Charlotte, Fayetteville and Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Richmond, Virginia, should be prepared for snow-covered and icy roads on Friday and into Saturday. An accumulation ranging from 1 to 6 inches will occur along the Interstate 85 and I-77 corridors.
Along the I-20 corridor in the region, sleet may mix in for a time.
From near Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina, to Norfolk, Virginia, from 6 to 12 inches of snow may fall with locally higher amounts possible if the storm develops to its full potential.
The storm could turn northward enough upon reaching the Atlantic Ocean to cause a period of snow from northeastern Virginia to New Jersey, coastal New York state and southeastern New England on Saturday.
Property owners and snow clearing crews are encouraged to remove snow promptly during and at the conclusion of the storm.
A surge of arctic air will quickly follow and cause wet and slushy areas to freeze. Removal of snow and ice will be difficult after the freeze-up occurs.
During the few days following the storm, problems with icy patches are likely as areas made wet by natural melting during the day freeze at night.