A storm will put down a swath of accumulating snow from Nebraska to Michigan this week, AccuWeather meteorologists say.
The storm will not be a blockbuster in terms of snowfall accumulations, but some heavily populated and well-traveled interstates are in line to pick up a few inches of snow. As a result, motorists could have to deal with slippery road conditions.
Exactly where the band of snow settles will depend on the storm's track, how much cold air arrives from Canada and whether a warm area of high pressure from the Gulf of Mexico can put up any resistance.
AccuWeather meteorologists first identified the potential for snow in this region last week and have since tweaked their forecast to zero in on the corridor of the Midwest and Northeast where snow is most likely.
This area of snow is forecast to extend from Nebraska to southern Wisconsin and the northern tier of Illinois before shifting to part of the lower Peninsula of Michigan.
"Although temperatures may be close to or a little above freezing during the storm, it can snow hard enough for several hours and allow an accumulation on some roads from the central Plains to the western Great Lake region," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Adam Douty said.
In the Central states, "the best chance for several inches of snow and the worst travel conditions appears to be during Thursday night and early Friday from eastern Nebraska and southeastern South Dakota to northern Iowa and southern Minnesota," Douty said. A small pocket of freezing rain can occur with icy travel in parts of northern Kansas and southern Nebraska for a time on Friday.
Motorists should be prepared for wintry conditions along interstates 29, 35, 39, 80, 90 and 94 in the region during this time when the lack of sunlight and heaviest precipitation rates coincide.
Whether or not slippery driving conditions develop at the lakefront in Chicago may only be a matter of a couple of degrees Fahrenheit. Elsewhere, the temperatures are likely to be lower in the city's northern and western suburbs as well as farther north in the Wisconsin cities of Milwaukee and Madison. In these areas, a few inches of snow could pile up with wintry travel. A distance of a dozen miles from south to north near the Illinois and Wisconsin border could bring little to no accumulation to close to 6 inches.
Farther to the east on Friday, over the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, the snow may initially melt as it falls. However, as the snow continues into the evening, roads will likely become slippery along portions of interstates 69, 75 and 96. Motorists heading home in the Detroit metro area Friday evening should be prepared for potentially hazardous driving conditions. Accumulating snow is also in store for Lansing and Grand Rapids, Michigan.
As the storm continues to push eastward, it will encounter some issues that will greatly limit the amount of snow that falls.
"A wedge of dry air may cut the storm's moisture supply and a competing storm off the Atlantic coast may zap some strength from Friday night to Saturday," Douty said.
For these reasons, a broad area of moderate snow is not anticipated by AccuWeather meteorologists over the central Appalachians. In fact, only a coating of snow or a bit of freezing rain may be left by the time the storm gets to the Pennsylvania mountains late Friday night.
However, because the snow or a wintry mix will occur primarily Friday night to early Saturday, hazardous travel is a possibility along portions of interstates 76, 79, 80, 86 and 90 and may not be limited to the highest elevations.
A larger part of the Northeast could have a second chance at some snow during the pattern, however.
In the wake of the first storm, another storm will have more impact in terms of snow for a broader area of the Northeast, including the New York City area, and other locations along the mid-Atlantic and New England coasts from Sunday to early Monday.
Looking ahead, a series of large storms is likely to affect the central and eastern U.S. prior to Christmas, as per AccuWeather's long-range forecasting team.
"Since most of these storms will track northeastward from the Mississippi Valley toward the Great Lakes, the best chance for heavy snow will be from portions of the central Plains to the Upper Midwest, rather than the coastal Northeast," AccuWeather Chief On-Air Meteorologist Bernie Rayno said.
The storm track could still allow some brief episodes of snow or a wintry mix to occur over the traditionally colder areas of the interior Northeast, forecasters say.
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