Over the next few days, a formidable winter storm is poised to unleash snow, heavy rain, and powerful winds across much of the central and eastern United States. Spanning more than 2 million square miles, the expansive system will disrupt travel and daily life for tens of millions starting Monday.
As the storm gathers strength Sunday night into Monday, it will tap ample moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and collide with cold Arctic air, creating prime conditions for a major wintry onslaught. Meteorologists have tracked this system for over a week as computer models highlighted its potential severity.
The most significant impacts will occur from Monday through Tuesday as the storm traverses from the southern Plains through the Midwest and into the Great Lakes region.
Snowfall accumulations of 3 to 12 inches are expected along a nearly 1,500-mile swath from the Southwest mountains into the upper Midwest. Major interstates, including 25, 40, 70, 80, 35, 29, 55 and 94, will become treacherous to travel with snow, slush and blowing snow.
Additionally, the storm will unleash drenching rains and thunderstorms further east into the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys. Embedded severe thunderstorms capable of tornadoes will be possible, especially across the lower Mississippi Valley.
Strong winds gusting 40 to 60 mph will buffet areas from Texas to Maine, leading to power outages.
Behind this storm, forecast models suggest an even more powerful system will slam the Northwest early next week. This subsequent storm will tap a fresh injection of Arctic air, meaning winter weather could reignite next weekend across the Central states.
With such widespread hazardous impacts anticipated, motorists should prepare for lengthy travel delays on the roads and airports throughout the country. Flight cancellations and delays could cascade across the U.S. aviation network. People should exercise caution and allow extra time to reach their destination during the next few days.
The storm's vast scope means over 30 states will experience some effect from snow, rain or wind from the system. Residents across the country's eastern half should prepare in advance for disruptions and remain alert for forecast updates.