Dangerous blizzard, ice storm wallops Midwest with treacherous travel and power outages

As a storm with snow and ice strengthens, gusty winds and plummeting temperatures will lead to blizzard conditions in many areas of the Midwest this weekend.

Motorists will be at risk for getting stuck on the highways, and airline passengers may spend hours at airports due to mounting airline delays and flight cancellations. Unnecessary travel should be avoided during the storm, due to the risk of being stranded in your vehicle in plummeting temperatures.

The severity of the storm, wind and cold air that follow may force schools to close that are not already closed on Monday for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

In some cases, roads and airports may close in the Midwest, even though the heaviest snow, on the order of 1-3 feet will target the interior northeastern United States with blizzard conditions. For parts of the Midwest, the heaviest snow will continue to spread across the lower Great Lakes and across the Ohio Valley.

Timing the storm

While one band of snow spread from southern Minnesota to southern Michigan and northern Ohio, a second area developed over eastern Oklahoma. This snow has already accumulated a few inches in northwestern Arkansas through Saturday morning.

As the storm tracks northeastward, rain will continue to changeover to snow across the Ohio Valley through Saturday night.

"Residents in Evansville, Indiana; Louisville, Kentucky; and Cincinnati, Ohio, should not let their guard down with the weekend starting with rain," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski. "Roads will turn from wet to slushy and very slippery in a matter of a few hours as the rain changes to snow and temperatures plummet."

Related: Winter storms and weather across the United States — January 2019

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Winter storms and weather across the United States -- January 2019
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Winter storms and weather across the United States -- January 2019
James Spanos pushes a cart of his belongings on a snow-covered street during a winter storm, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in Portland, Maine. Scarves, hoods and gloves were necessary for New England residents venturing outdoors as the region endures a storm that can dump up to 18 inches of snow. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Horses stand over a major winter storm which dropped around 8 inches of snow in Taos, New Mexico, U.S., January 11, 2019. REUTERS/Andrew Hay
Caleb Seely rides a unicycle on a snow covered sidewalk as he heads home after helping shovel out his brother's driveway during a winter storm, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in Portland, Maine. The extra knobby tire on Seely's ride provided traction on a day when snow, sleet and freezing rain kept most motorists indoors. Parts of New England residents are bracing for up to 18 inches of snow. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Traffic moved through the town center after a major winter storm dropped around 8 inches of snow in Taos, New Mexico, U.S., January 11, 2019. REUTERS/Andrew Hay
Don Locke, of Pottsville, Pa., clears snow and ice from his car along 12th Street in Pottsville, Pa., on Sunday, January 20, 2019. (Andy Matsko/The Republican-Herald via AP)
A couple takes photos at the frozen fountain in Bryant Park January 11, 2019 in New York. New York City was hit with bitter temperatures and high winds. - The low for Friday was 22 Farenheit (-5.5 Celsius) (Photo by Don EMMERT / AFP) (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
Motorists try to fix their windshield wipers during a winter storm, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in Portland, Maine. Snow, sleet and freezing rain is making travel hazardous throughout much of New England. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
People take photos of the frozen fountain in Bryant Park on January 11, 2019 in New York. New York City was hit with bitter temperatures and high winds. - The low for Friday was 22 Farenheit (-5.5 Celsius) (Photo by Don EMMERT / AFP) (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
Crews clear snow at the Albany International Airport in Colonie, N.Y., Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019. A major winter storm that blanketed much of the Midwest with snow earlier in the weekend is barreling toward New England, where it is expected to wreak transportation havoc from slick and clogged roads to hundreds of canceled airline flights. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)
Birds play in the frozen fountain in Bryant Park January 11, 2019 in New York. New York City was hit with bitter temperatures and high winds. The low for Friday was 22 Farenheit (-5.5 Celsius) (Photo by Don EMMERT / AFP) (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
Lakewood CO - JANUARY 11: Meredith Mills pushes shopping carts back into King Soppers on January 11, 2019 in Lakewood, Colorado. Snow continues to fall in the metro area. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
SILVER SPRING, MD - JAN 9: Emmi Horne, 8, tries to catch snowflakes on her toungue as she walks through downtown Silver Spring, Maryland during a brief snow squall with her mom, Terry Horne, right. (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 8: A pedestrian passes through a light dusting of snow on a Columbia Road sidewalk in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston on Jan. 8, 2019. (Photo by Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Waves from the East River are seen in front of the Brooklyn Bridge and the skyline of Manhattan in New York on January 7, 2019. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)
Keith Morris, of the City of Owensboro's Street Department, takes off a hose after loading 1,000 gallons of salt brine into a tank on a truck, Friday afternoon, Jan. 11, 2019, so it can be spread on city roads in Owensboro, Ky. The National Weather Service had issued a winter weather advisory on Friday of accumulating snow moving into the area Friday evening into early Saturday. (Alan Warren/The Messenger-Inquirer via AP)
Traffic moves along I-70 near Lawrence, Kan., Friday, Jan. 11, 2019 ahead of an expected snow storm. The area is under a Winter Weather Advisory. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
A plow treats Douglas County Road 438 near Lawrence, Kan., Friday, Jan. 11, 2019 ahead of an expected snow storm. The area is under a Winter Weather Advisory. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
A pedestrian walks across the street in downtown Scranton, Pa., on Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019. A major winter storm brought some of the coldest temperatures of the season and covered a large swath of the country in snow as it wreaked havoc on air travel and caused slick road conditions throughout New England Sunday. (Butch Comegys/The Times-Tribune via AP)
Marvin Hooks wears a face mask to protect him from the cold as he walks on North Street in Pittsfield, Mass., Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. Bitter cold and gusty winds swept across the eastern U.S. Monday with falling temperatures replacing the weekend's falling snow. (Ben Garver/The Berkshire Eagle via AP)
A runner moves through West Park on the Northside of Pittsburgh on Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019. A major winter storm brought some of the coldest temperatures of the season and covered a large swath of the country in snow as it wreaked havoc on air travel and caused slick road conditions throughout New England Sunday. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Dan Cappella, of Pottsville, Pa., clears snow away on Howard Avenue in Pottsville, Pa., on Sunday, January 20, 2019. (Andy Matsko/The Republican-Herald via AP)
Ben Jennings snowblows his driveway on Sunday, Jan. 20, in Glenville, N.Y., where 16 inches of snow fell from Saturday evening through noon Sunday. (AP Photo/Mary Esch)
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Motorists planning to travel on stretches of interstates 24, 55, 64, 65, 71 and 75 are urged to use extreme caution and be alert for the slick conditions.

Increasingly gusty winds through Saturday night will whip the snow around, dramatically reducing visibility.

Snow amounts expected from the storm

Snow amounts of 3-6 inches are expected across the lower Ohio River Valley, while the storm can end with 1-3 inches in southern Ohio and northeastern Kentucky.

Unlike the storm last weekend, the majority of the snow will bypass St. Louis.

While the snow will wind down in Chicago after delivering 6-10 inches, around 6 inches can pile up around Detroit into Saturday evening.

Heavier snow can unfold across northeastern Ohio, pushing amounts to around a foot in Cleveland.

Strong wind and ice to add to hazards, cause power outages

Strong winds during the height of the storm from late Saturday to Sunday will cause extensive blowing and drifting snow, blizzard conditions and broken tree limbs.

Near and just south of the heavy snow area, a substantial amount of sleet and freezing rain is occurring just north of Interstate 70 in Ohio and Indiana. The ice has weighed down power lines northeast of Indianapolis.

The increasing winds during the latter part of the storm may cause an exponential increase in the number of power outages during Saturday night and Sunday, threatening to leave people without power as Arctic air takes hold.

Dangerous freeze-up looms in wake of storm

The rapid temperature drop during and in the wake of the storm will cause wet and slushy areas to freeze.

Prompt snow removal is recommended to prevent a thick layer of ice from forming, which would be difficult to remove after temperatures fall into the teens and lower.

AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures will dip to dangerous levels during and after the storm.

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