A powerful storm developing in the Rockies could bring snow to more than 20 states.
By midweek, the storm will bring an array of weather threats to the central and southern United States. According to analysts at AccuWeather, the sizable system, which intensified as it moved across the Rocky Mountains, will leave a trail of heavy snow that stretches into southern Texas.
Alyson Hoegg, AccuWeather’s chief weather forecaster, told The Epoch Times that the main concern is that heavy snowfall rates could create dangerous conditions as the storm begins to intensify early January 24 and sweeps across Texas and through central Mississippi – Valley moves. Hoegg said snow rates across a narrow corridor of north Texas and parts of Oklahoma would extend into the Indianapolis area and through Ohio. This snowfall could intensify to one to two inches per hour and create travel hazards.
“During the day on January 24th, snow from the Texas Panhandle through central Oklahoma will be visible to the evening commute…all who are out [will experience] reduced visibility,” said Hoegg. “Snow will accumulate quickly on the roads, making them slippery and dangerous. So this is definitely a problem again in this corridor.
“Until you come in [Jan. 25]in the morning we look again at these heavy snowfall rates extending from near the St. Louis area to Indianapolis and into southeast Michigan and also northwest Ohio.
Where the storm leads
The storm is expected to draw moisture from the Gulf of Mexico as it moves across the southern and central parts of the United States. Even in some regions that do not experience excessive winter weather, snowfalls of up to 6 inches can occur. For example, Oklahoma City receives an average of just 6.7 inches each year. But that storm system could bring the equivalent of that average to the city in just 12 to 24 hours, according to AccuWeather’s forecast.
The Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex is likely to experience mostly rain from the storm further south, with a chance of some snowflakes mixing in later on January 24. As snow accumulates and visibility is significantly reduced, travel becomes difficult. Even a light surface on highways can result in slippery conditions that, in addition to reducing visibility, also significantly impair locomotion.
The area may also experience power outages due to the wet, heavy snow. Power lines and branches dangling over power lines can be weighed down by heavier, stickier snow. The weight of the snow could cause these branches to break and potentially fall onto the power lines. This snow is also harder to shovel.
“The other concern [is] While we don’t expect snow on the south side of this storm all the way down to the Gulf Coast, we do expect severe weather. So places from central Texas during the day [Jan. 24] All the way along the Gulf Coast through the Houston Metro area, across to New Orleans and out into far west Florida’s Panhandle, we are concerned about severe weather and expect a series of severe thunderstorms to develop throughout the day [Jan. 24], and these will create damaging winds,” Hoegg said. “There may be isolated tornadoes.
“So not only is this storm snowing, but severe weather along the Gulf Coast is a concern.”
Additional concerns as snowfall increases
Forecasters also said the situation will get a little more complicated as the storm moves toward the Ohio Valley. A storm with this much energy can be sent further north or south by small adjustments in the jet stream, which would significantly affect the amount of snowfall. Drizzle or rain is expected on the southeastern edge of the storm, which could reduce snowfall.
According to forecasters at AccuWeather, the area currently most likely to experience heavy snowfall is in the region from Springfield, Missouri, up into northern Maine and Atlantic Canada.
Several large cities, including St. Louis, Chicago and Detroit, could experience disruptive snow as the storm moves northeast, according to AccuWeather. While the exact snowfall totals for these cities are still uncertain, there is no need to worry that an extended period of mixed precipitation will reduce their snowfall totals as they are on the cooler northwest side of the storm track.
Inland and possibly even closer to the Interstate 95 corridor, more snow may fall once the storm moves northeast. While nothing is definitive at this time, it appears that New York City and Philadelphia will continue to suffer from lack of snow.
The AccuWeather meteorologist also expressed concern for those tasked with clearing snow because it was a “heavy, wet” snowfall.
“So the other hazard that worries us is shoveling,” Hoegg said. “People are out and about or getting out and shoveling. It will take some effort to shovel snow off sidewalks and driveways.”