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Snowstorm Forecast To Bury Portions Of Interior Southeast This Weekend

This weekend, a storm will dump a foot of snow on the southern Appalachians

A storm AccuWeather meteorologists have had their eye on since the start of the month will drop a foot of snow on the southern Appalachians this weekend. The storm could also draw in enough cold air to allow snow to fall in lower elevations, including heavily populated areas from northern Alabama and Georgia to central portions of the Carolinas and Virginia.

Exactly how much snow falls, as well as the extent of accumulating snow in some areas, will depend on the track and strength of a slow-moving storm that will develop over the northeastern Gulf of Mexico on Saturday and move steadily northeastward from Sunday to Monday.

A slowly moving storm will form over the northeastern Gulf of Mexico on Saturday and continue to move steadily northeast from Sunday to Monday. ACCUWEATHER

Drenching rain will break out near the northeastern Gulf coast along a stalled front on Friday and will then spread across portions of Georgia and much of the Carolinas during Friday night and Saturday, forecasters say. Enough rain can fall in these areas, as well as in locations farther to the north and west, to lead to urban and small-stream flooding.

However, as the storm strengthens, a corresponding big dip in the jet stream will develop over the Southeastern states and compensate for a lack of cold air in the region. Storms with a jet stream setup of this nature can pull down cold air from high up in the atmosphere and allow snow to reach the ground. This is exactly what AccuWeather meteorologists anticipate will happen from Saturday night to Sunday evening over the interior Southeast.

“Never trust closed low pressure areas,” AccuWeather Chief On-Air Meteorologists Bernie Rayno told viewers on the AccuWeather Network as he referenced the storm setup. “Mischief and mayhem always follow closed lows.”

The storm will begin to produce snow at high elevations over the southern Appalachians Saturday night and Sunday morning. The heaviest snow from the storm will be found in the areas where the air will be coldest. Those locations include western North Carolina, eastern Tennessee, western Virginia and southeastern West Virginia. A general 6-12 inches of snow will fall, but an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 30 inches is most likely to occur at elevations above 3,500 feet .

In places like Asheville, North Carolina; Bluefield, West Virginia; and Blacksburg, Virginia, several inches of snow are expected. ACCUWEATHER

Several inches of snow is forecast in locations such as Asheville, North Carolina; Bluefield, West Virginia; and Blacksburg, Virginia. Since the snow can come down hard at times in these areas and others in the southern Appalachians, roads are likely to become slushy and covered in snow, resulting in slippery and difficult travel conditions. This includes stretches of interstate highways 26, 40, 64, 77 and 81 in the region.

Motorists venturing through this area should be prepared for extensive delays and road closures. A delayed or expedited trip is recommended to avoid the height of the storm from late Saturday night to Sunday evening, forecasters say.

The wet, clinging nature of the snow will likely cause tree limbs to bend and break, potentially taking power lines with them. This will be an added hazard on secondary highways and rural routes.

From Saturday night into Sunday evening, a trace of snow may fall in places including Huntsville, Alabama; Atlanta; Greenville, South Carolina; Greensboro and Charlotte, North Carolina. ACCUWEATHER

Outside of the mountainous regions, meteorologists say the snow forecast is shaping up to be a bit tricky due to temperatures that will be near to slightly above freezing levels. This includes locations from middle Tennessee and eastern Kentucky to the northern parts of Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina, as well as the central parts of North Carolina and Virginia.

In these areas, it may come down to a degree or two Fahrenheit and how hard it actually snows to overcome the marginal temperatures and warm ground. However, cities such as Huntsville, Alabama; Atlanta, Greenville, South Carolina; and Greensboro and Charlotte, North Carolina could get a small accumulation of snow from Saturday into Sunday evening. The same is true for areas a bit farther to the east, such as Raleigh, North Carolina, Richmond, Virginia, and the western suburbs of Washington, D.C. Slippery driving conditions are a possibility, especially on secondary roads and colder surfaces.

The storm will start to intensify its northeasterly wind as it gets closer to the Atlantic coast. Average wind speeds of between 15 and 25 mph with gusts of nearly 40 mph are possible. ACCUWEATHER

Closer to the Atlantic coast, the strengthening storm will begin to crank up a northeasterly wind. Winds could average between 15 and 25 mph and produce gusts near 40 mph. Because of the slow-moving nature of the storm and the flow of air around it, minor tidal flooding, rough surf and beach erosion are likely to spread from northeastern North Carolina to southeastern New England from Sunday to Monday.

Some locations that are prone to problems during nor’easters, such as the Virginia Tidewater and the barrier island communities in southern New Jersey, could experience some minor coastal flooding during high tide later this weekend to early next week.

As the storm pivots well off the mid-Atlantic and southern New England coasts through Sunday night, the northwestern edge of the drenching rain may reach areas from Philadelphia to New York City and Boston.

The atmosphere over the coastal Northeast will not be as cold as the interior Southeast, according to AccuWeather Long-Range Meteorologist Joseph Bauer. However, it is possible that a narrow band of wet snow or a mixture of rain and wet snow develops close to this zone for a brief time near the end of the storm.

As the snow drought continues along the I-95 zone of the mid-Atlantic, southern cities such as Knoxville, Tennessee, have already picked up 1.6 inches, which is more than all of the snow that has fallen so far in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York City combined. A number of additional southern cities may join that list in the wake of this storm.

South of the storm track, in the storm’s warm and humid sector, thunderstorm activity could become locally severe from southeastern Georgia to northern and central Florida from Friday to Saturday. The greatest threats from these storms will most likely be strong wind gusts and torrential downpours, but a couple of tornadoes or waterspouts cannot be ruled out.

While the storm system will add to what has already been a wet winter in some locations, this will bring an opportunity for skiers to enjoy some fresh powder in portions of the southern Appalachians for a time late this weekend to early next week.


Produced in association with AccuWeather.

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