As the new year gets underway, a robust storm will deliver rain to areas from New England to the Appalachians, the Ohio Valley and the lower Great Lakes region to end this week.
But, forecasters say the first large storm of 2020 will eventually evolve into more than a rainstorm.
By the time the weekend begins, the second phase of the storm will turn wintry and is forecast to bring accumulating snow to portions of the Mississippi and Ohio valleys as well as the Appalachians this weekend.
As the warmer and first part of the storm evolves and moves along, rain over the south-central United States on Thursday morning will overspread the Ohio Valley Thursday afternoon and then much of the Northeast during Thursday night and Friday.
The rain is likely to become fragmented as it moves into the Northeast; some locations will get soaked and others will barely receive a couple of showers.
"Those with plans in New York City, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Boston and Pittsburgh from Friday to Saturday should be prepared for wet weather," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson said.
At the onset of the rain, cold ground conditions can produce freezing rain and black ice in portions of central and northern New England and central and northeastern New York state. A repeat of the major ice storm that hit these same areas early this week is not anticipated.
"It is the second part of the storm that is likely to trend colder and allow a transition to snow or a rain and snow mix from west to east," Anderson said.
"The storm is now expected to move more slowly, last longer and cause an area of snow to occur father east but over a much larger area than planned from earlier this week," Anderson added.
Cities such as Kansas City, Missouri; Davenport, Iowa; and Milwaukee should avoid accumulating snow from the storm, while Chicago will be on the northwestern edge.
Areas most likely to receive a 1- to 3-inch snowfall with locally higher amounts will extend from southern Illinois to northern Ohio and southern Michigan during Friday night.
Snow is not likely to stop over the Midwest.
Portions of West Virginia, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware New Jersey, New York and New England are all likely to have some snowflakes before the storm moves away this weekend.
Since the lower levels of the atmosphere will be warm to start off, much of the snow may melt as it falls. Even so, it is possible that portions of the Appalachians will receive enough snow from Saturday to Sunday to make roads slippery with a few inches possible on non-paved surfaces over the higher elevations.
Areas from New York to Boston, as well as Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., could also have a period of wet snow at the tail end of the storm from Saturday night to Sunday. Whether or not the snow creates slippery spots will depend on the duration of that snow. Where the snow lasts a few minutes, no accumulation would occur. Where it snows for several hours, it could be a different story with a few inches of snow and slushy and slippery roads.
Those with flexible travel plans may want to adjust their departure. Friday night to Saturday may be the better of the two weekend days in the Northeast, while Sunday may be the better choice in the Midwest in terms of avoiding icy and snow-covered roads.
Portions of major highways that could have slippery and dangerous conditions include I-64, I-70, I-77, I-79, I-80, I-81, I-84, I-87, I-88 I-90, I-91 and perhaps I-95.
The cold pocket of air that catches up to the storm is not expected to last long. Milder air with temperatures well above freezing will surge northeastward spanning Monday and Tuesday.
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