Imagine the arrival of a squall line; the darkening skies, sudden blast of wind, and deluge of rain.
This is how the onset of the pre-Christmas winter storm will be experienced. But instead, it will be a sudden drop in temperature and bursts of heavy snow accompanying the sudden blast of wind.
This is a dangerous winter storm. And here's why.
Commodity weather apps and traditional snowfall maps won't do it justice. Roads will go from dry and mild to snow-covered and treacherous in a matter of just a few miles or minutes. All while millions of Americans are trying to reach their holiday destination before the weekend. This is especially true for motorists heading west or north into the storm.
I will summarize the most dangerous routes to avoid, followed by a "deadline to arrival" day and time for your destination.
There won't be a lot of rain or a big warm-up ahead of this storm in most areas. Snow events in the Ozarks and lower Ohio Valley are usually a changeover event, with a gradual drop in temperature as the precipitation winds down. Instead, temperatures with this front will drop more than 20 degrees in an hour, and winds will gust over 40 mph as snow picks up rapidly. Visibilities could be less than 1/8th of a mile for several hours after the passage of the front.
Here is an example of what this will look like on a graph for Cape Girardeau, Missouri on Thursday.
The following interstate routes will most likely experience something similar when the front arrives. Suggested time of arrivals for select cities are available in the following section.
Motorists who are traveling west, northwest, or southwest along the interstates mentioned above are at much greater risk of getting stranded. That is, if you don't leave in time to BEAT the Siberia-like onslaught.
That's why I've created a map with deadlines to your destination.
Please note: If you are traveling east, which is the same motion as the storm, you will likely need to plan on arriving 4 to 6 hours sooner than displayed on the map above.
The rumors have been flying for days. And some of them are true!
Another winter storm is taking aim on the Mid-South and Southeast this weekend.
For some, this will be the third winter wallop in two weeks after many wondered if winter would ever come.
Winter had been missing for much of the eastern two-thirds of the nation prior to the start of the new year. However, back-to-back winter storms have since swept through the same areas targeted by this weekend's event.
Forecast models have converged on two swaths of significant wintry precipitation arcing from the Midwest to the Southeast. I've listed them below, along with details on where I see the most noteworthy amounts occurring.
The storm will start like a classic Alberta Clipper system, diving quickly to the south through the eastern Dakotas and Minnesota to Missouri.
Generally speaking, a 24-hour window of light to moderate snow will leave most areas with 2 to 6 inches, but higher amounts of 4 to 8 inches are possible roughly 100 miles either side of a line from Sioux Falls, SD to Kirksville, MO.
The storm will be strengthening as it dives into the Mid-South Saturday night, pulling in more moisture from the Gulf of Mexico.
Confidence is much lower on amounts and location of the heaviest bands as the storm goes through this transition. This will likely result in gaps in heavier snowfall totals across portions of Missouri and Arkansas. The highest totals in these states, potentially up to six inches, will likely occur in the higher terrain of the Ozarks on either side of the state line.
Forecast map on more specific amounts across Mid-South will be available when confidence is high enough to be credible.
Snowfall rates will pick up quickly as the storm matures through the Tennessee Valley Sunday. This is also when a mixture of freezing rain and sleet will overspread northeast Georgia and the Upstate regions of South and North Carolina. North and west of where ice accumulations occur, a swath of 4 to 8 inches of snow is becoming increasingly likely. A consensus of the most reliable forecast data places this 100 miles either side of a line from just east of Memphis to Knoxville in Tennessee, then across the Appalachians from northeast Georgia to Pennsylvania.
Lighter amounts of wintry precipitation will also fall outside of the aforementioned areas, but with lesser confidence in how much. Dry air will lead to a sharp cutoff in snowfall amounts on the northern side of the storm track, whereas the timing of a changeover from rain to frozen precipitation will affect amounts on the southern side.