Potent winter storm to lash eastern US with snow, soaking rain by early week

A potent storm will develop and organize a swath of drenching rain and accumulating snow over a large part of the eastern United States spanning Sunday and Monday.

The storm early next week is likely to gather more moisture and produce heavier precipitation when compared to the storm into early Groundhog Day.

As a result, impact from the early-week storm may be significant in terms of travel and daily activities.

Those with flights or long-distance travel on the highways from Sunday to Monday may want to monitor the development and progress of the storm as a result.

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Early 2018 winter weather across the US
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Early 2018 winter weather across the US
CHICAGO, USA - JANUARY 20: A view of the frozen trees and ornamentals at Whihala Beach Park with the impact of surges and extremely cold weather in Chicago, Illionis, United States on January 20, 2018. (Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ILLIONIS, USA - JANUARY 12: Huge waves crash onto the sidewalk of the Lake Michigan as strong winds drive huge waves reaching about 6 meters high along the Chicago shoreline after the heavy snowfall and strong winds hit Indiana, in Chicago, United States on January 12, 2018. (Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 9: The U.S. Capitol dome is seen surrounded by fog Tuesday morning, Jan. 9, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 23: Storm clouds pass over the dome of the U.S. Capitol building on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
NEW YORK, USA - JANUARY 09: Crowd of people skate on the ice rink during cold weather following snow days at the Central Park in New York City, United States on January 09, 2018. (Photo by Atilgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, USA - JANUARY 09: City staff members shovel snow during cold weather following snow days at the Central Park in New York City, United States on January 09, 2018. (Photo by Atilgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 08: A visitor from Vietnam makes his way across the frozen Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool on January 8, 2018. A member of the National Park Service subsequently told people to leave the ice and said that 12 people had recently fallen through. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
CHICAGO, USA - JANUARY 6: A view of the coast of Michigan lake frozen due to the extremely cold weather reaching minus 20 in the nights hits Chicago, Illionis, United States on January 6, 2018. (Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, USA - JANUARY 6: A view of the coast of Michigan lake frozen due to the extremely cold weather reaching minus 20 in the nights hits Chicago, Illionis, United States on January 6, 2018. (Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, USA - JANUARY 6: A view of ice floating over the frozen Chicago river as extremely cold weather reaching minus 20 in the nights hits Chicago, Illionis, United States on January 6, 2018. (Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 06: A man walks around Central Park during freezing temperatures on January 06, 2018 in New York City. The extreme conditions suffered across the United States are a result of the 'bomb cyclone' brought along by Storm Grayson. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)
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"The ingredients are there for a big storm, but there is some competition with other, lesser storms on the map due to the busy weather pattern," according to AccuWeather Chief Broadcast Meteorologist Bernie Rayno.

Storm to deliver drenching rain in coastal mid-Atlantic, southern US

Rain will gather over the lower Mississippi Valley and upper Gulf of Mexico coast during Saturday night and Sunday morning. Downpours will develop and thunderstorms are likely to erupt near the Gulf coast.

"We expect the fast motion of the storm to prevent widespread flash flooding of small streams," according to AccuWeather Expert Storm Warning Meteorologist Tyler Dewvall.

Abnormally dry to severe drought conditions persist in the Southeastern states, according to the United States Drought Monitor.

However, downpours may be heavy enough to cause urban flooding in parts of the South, coastal mid-Atlantic and southeastern New England as the storm moves along into Monday.

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Motorists across the Interstate 10, I-20, I-85 and other corridors in the South and along much of the I-95 corridor in the East can expect delays related to excess water on the roads and poor visibility.

Similarly, airline delays related to fog or a low cloud ceiling are likely in the major hubs of Atlanta, Charlotte, North Carolina, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Baltimore and New York City at the height of the storm.

A few communities in the Interstate 10 corridor may get a gusty thunderstorm as well.

Snow may blanket areas from Ohio Valley to New England

Enough cold air will be in place for snow to fall on the storm's northern and western flanks. The question is: Will this area of snow be poorly organized and spotty in nature, or will a long swath of moderate to heavy snow develop?

"The area from northeastern Pennsylvania to northern New England may be the swath that picks up 6 inches of snow or more from the storm," Rayno said.

Motorists should be prepared for wintry driving conditions along portions of Interstate 70, I-71, I-76, I-77, I-80, I-81, I-87, I-88, I-90, I-91, I-93 and I-95 in the northeastern part of the nation on Sunday and Sunday night.

In the area western North Carolina to central Maryland, central New Jersey, southeastern New York state and southeastern New England, the most likely time for a mix of rain, snow and/or sleet will be early Sunday morning.

Airline delays due to deicing

At this time, the area where some snow is likely to develop first with the storm is in parts of northern Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio on Sunday.

From there, snow is likely to spread northeastward across parts of northern West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, upstate New York and central and northwestern New England on Sunday.

Whether or not the rate of snowfall becomes heavy in a narrow zone will depend on how quickly the storm strengthens. Meanwhile, the dividing line between rain and snow will depend on the track of the storm.

Expect more waves of cold air with frequent storms

In the coming weeks, the overall weather pattern will remain very active as waves of arctic air across the northern half of the nation clash with mild air in the Deep South.

At the same time, some communities may be affected by a storm every one to two days.

AccuWeather will continue to provide updates on this storm and others during the busy, wintry weather pattern through February.

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