Post-Christmas storm to slam central US with flooding, severe weather and snow
A major snow event will cause travel disruptions and could threaten lives and property over the south-central United States during the days following Christmas.
The same storm set to bring rain and snow to parts of Southern California on earlier this week will set its sights on the Southwest and South Central states spanning Saturday to Monday.
The slow-moving storm will affect thousands of square miles of the nation from New Mexico, Texas and Louisiana to Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois.
The storm will bring everything from heavy snow and blizzard conditions to ice, flooding rain and severe thunderstorms.
The storm will begin to consolidate over northern Mexico spanning Saturday and Saturday night. Areas of heavy snow will develop over New Mexico and the San Juan Mountains.
As colder air invades the southern Rockies and part of the Plains, the storm will strengthen this weekend.
Winds and areal coverage of the snow will expand to parts of the central and southern Plains later Saturday into Monday.
According to AccuWeather Assistant Director of Storm Warnings Andrew Gagnon, "The combination of heavy snow and strong winds will create blizzard conditions from eastern New Mexico to the Texas Panhandle and southwestern Kansas."
The blizzard conditions could bring travel to a halt along parts of highways I-25 and I-40 in the region.
Some locations within and bordering the blizzard could receive a foot of snow.
ICE MAY ENCASE PARTS OF SOUTHERN AND CENTRAL PLAINS:
A shallow layer of cold air associated with the storm will result in a narrow swath of freezing rain and sleet from part of west-central Texas to central Oklahoma, central Kansas, southeastern Nebraska and southwestern Iowa.
An extended period of ice is possible in this swath and could result in power outages and dangerous travel in parts of the I-20, I-40, I-70 and I-135 corridors.
However, should the storm transition to more of a sleet and snow mix, the risk of a buildup of ice on trees and power lines would be lower.
FLOODING RISK FROM TEXAS TO ILLINOIS:
A swath of heavy rain will develop over the southern Plains and extend northeastward toward the Midwest early next week.
Rain will fall on multiple days in the swath from north-central Texas to west-central Illinois. Rainfall in this swath is likely to range from 3 to 6 inches with local amounts to approach 10 inches.
The rain will be enough to cause widespread flash and urban flooding. Significant rises on some of the region's major rivers are possible.
SEVERE WEATHER POTENTIAL IN LOWER MISSISSIPPI VALLEY SUNDAY, MONDAY:
With such a dynamic storm forecast to develop, combined with lingering warmth to the southeast and colder air building to the northwest, an outbreak of severe weather is possible.
The potential for severe thunderstorms will initiate over parts of central Texas as early as Saturday evening.
"Portions of eastern Texas will be at risk on Sunday, followed by the lower Mississippi Valley on Monday," Gagnon said.
The risk of the storms is likely to include damaging wind gusts and perhaps a few tornadoes.
The severe weather potential will follow the locally severe weather from the Mississippi Valley to the Ohio Valley on Wednesday and Wednesday night.
While the forward speed of the storm beyond the weekend is uncertain, AccuWeather meteorologists believe a swath of heavy snow, rain and thunderstorms will reach more of the Midwest and East during next week with significant travel impact.
The exact path the storm takes will determine exactly where the different zones of heavy precipitation will set up.
NEW ENGLAND SNOW POSSIBLE MONDAY INTO TUESDAY:
As this storm system shifts from the center of the country on Monday into the Northeast, enough cool air will be present for snowfall. Monday night, the storm will be approaching at the coldest time of the day, making some snow possible through early Tuesday from Upstate New York and Massachusetts to Maine.
This snow will likely be erased quickly by a surge of warmer air Tuesday afternoon and evening.
Images from recent storms in Mississippi:
More from AccuWeather:
AccuWeather winter weather center
Snow to grind Christmas travel to a halt in western US; Rain to cause delays in eastern US
January to yield winter's first outbreak of icy air in eastern, central US