Winter storm to blast central US with blizzard conditions, severe weather and life-threatening flooding
Travel problems will occur across the south-central United States this weekend as a major storm brings everything from blizzard conditions to the threat for tornadoes.
This storm will slowly track northeastward across the South Central states into Monday with the likelihood of closed roads and flight cancellations.
This storm will create a travel headache for anyone trying to get home following the Christmas holiday. Those that do not need to travel this weekend are urged to stay home.
This storm will not only impact the South Central states. The Midwest and Northeast will be at risk for areas of ice, rain and snow early next week.
Track the precipitation across your area this weekend by using AccuWeather Minutecast®.
JUMP TO: Blizzard to unfold across New Mexico, southern High Plains | Ice to coat central Texas to northern Missouri | Major flooding to threaten eastern Oklahoma to Missouri | Severe thunderstorms to roll across Texas, lower Mississippi Valley
Snow will increase in intensity through Saturday across New Mexico before extending eastward into western Texas on Saturday night into Sunday.
"The storm diving into New Mexico and Texas will not only bring snow, but also strong winds," AccuWeather Meteorologist Evan Duffey said.
The combination of strong winds and heavy snow will create blizzard conditions from Albuquerque and Roswell, New Mexico, to Lubbock and Amarillo, Texas.
Blizzard conditions could cause portions of interstates 25, 27 and 40 to be shut down.
"The worst of the blizzard will occur from eastern New Mexico to western Texas and the Oklahoma Panhandle, where white-out conditions will likely halt road travel and ground planes," Duffey said.
Drivers are urged to never pass a snowplow as the road ahead could be extremely dangerous and covered in snow.
Snowfall rates could exceed 2 inches per hour at times. Visibilities may be measured in feet.
Over a foot of snow will fall from portions of eastern New Mexico into western Texas.
This storm will move into portions of the Oklahoma panhandle into western Kansas during Sunday to Sunday night with blizzard conditions.
Drivers that become trapped or stranded in snow should never leave your vehicle to look for help. Stay in your car, run your flashers and call 911. Be sure to have an emergency kit prepared if you have to travel.
As a shallow layer of cold air races into the southern Plains, the result will be a period of freezing rain and sleet from north-central Texas into northern Missouri.
Oklahoma City; Kansas City; and Wichita, Kansas, are some of the cities at risk for ice accumulations between 0.10 and 0.50 of an inch into Monday. Sleet can accumulate over 1 inch.
Central Oklahoma into south-central Kansas will likely have the worst of the freezing rain and sleet accumulations.
"The heaviest ice with this winter storm is projected to fall between Wichita Falls, Texas and Wichita, Kansas," Duffey said.
Some locations at risk for ice from this storm recently dealt with a significant ice storm during Thanksgiving weekend.
The areas having more freezing rain versus sleet are more prone for downed trees and power lines causing power outages. Nonetheless, travel will be dangerous regardless of whether sleet or freezing rain falls.
"With almost 2 million people in the impacted area, power outages could be significant," Duffey said.
Prior to the end of the event, precipitation will likely change over to snow across many areas. Some locations could receive an inch or two of snow on top of any ice or sleet accumulation.
Overnight low temperatures will take a nose dive during Monday night causing any wet roads to freeze.
On the warmer side of this system, heavy rainfall will lead to life-threatening flooding from portions of northeastern Texas into the Ohio Valley.
A band of heavy rain will be slow moving across the region and could produce rainfall rates between 1 to 2 inches per hour at times.
The heaviest rain will set up from Fort Smith, Arkansas, to near St. Louis into Monday. Rainfall totals could exceed 6 inches.
Dallas and Tulsa, Oklahoma, are also at risk for widespread flooding and road closures.
"Storm drains will become overwhelmed, water will fill up basements and creeks and rivers will rise out of their banks," AccuWeather Meteorologist Michael Doll said.
Residents should be prepared for possible evacuations, roads to become impassable and bridges to be washed out.
Several rivers may rise to major flood stage by early next week across Missouri, Arkansas, eastern Oklahoma and northeastern Texas.
National Weather Service hydrologists anticipate that the Arkansas River at the Ozark-Jetta Taylor Lock and Dam will rise to "the highest stage experienced since the completion of the navigation system in 1969."
After the storm has passed, major flooding could occur along the southern Mississippi River for much of next week.
"Even after the rain ends later Monday, rivers within the lower Mississippi River Basin will continue to rise as the water flows downstream," Doll said.
Never drive through a flooded roadway. Less than 1 foot of water can wash away vehicles.
Severe thunderstorms will initiate over parts of northern Texas into western Arkansas into Saturday night.
"The combination of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and unseasonably warm air in place will be enough fuel for strong-to-severe thunderstorms to erupt this weekend," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Matt Rinde said.
Some cities at risk into Saturday night include Dallas, San Antonio and Austin, Texas, and Fort Smith and Little Rock, Arkansas.
"The biggest threat will be heavy rain and damaging winds with these storms, but the strongest storms can produce tornadoes," Rinde said.
As this storm tracks eastward, severe thunderstorms will focus across southeastern Texas, Louisiana, eastern Arkansas, western Tennessee and Mississippi during Sunday into Sunday night.
Houston; Alexandria and New Orleans, Louisiana, Pine Bluff and Jonesboro, Arkansas; Jackson and Tupelo, Mississippi; and Memphis, Tennessee, will be under the gun for severe thunderstorms during Sunday and Sunday night.
Those traveling across interstates 10, 20, 30, 35, 40, 49 and 55 should keep an eye to the sky and try to seek shelter should a storm approach your area.
The severe threat will shift into the Deep South during Monday and Monday night with the potential for severe thunderstorms across Mississippi, Alabama, the Florida Panhandle and Tennessee.
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