The first snowflakes of the season have fallen or are forecast to fall across a large swath of the country over the next few days, all the way from New Mexico to New England. By the time the storm winds down, some 20 states could see snow from the storm, AccuWeather said, thanks to an unusually cold air mass that's moved in across the nation.
"Unseasonably cold conditions will continue for the center of the country through the eastern U.S. this week, setting the stage for potential wintry weather," said AccuWeather meteorologist Nicole LoBiondo.
While a blockbuster snowstorm is not expected, the first snowfall of the season can pose problems for drivers not accustomed to the weather.
Snow from the Plains to Midwest
On Monday, one to 3 inches of snow fell over a widespread area from the southern Plains into the Midwest, including in cities such as Amarillo, Texas; Wichita, Kansas; and Champaign, Illinois, AccuWeather said.
The National Weather Service said the heaviest snow in the central U.S. fell in western Oklahoma, where up to a half foot of snow was reported. . "Reduced visibility leading to hazardous driving conditions will be a concern as the region experiences its first notable wintry event of the season," the weather service said before the snow fell.
The snowstorm will bypass snow-weary portions of the northern Plains, which were buried by a blizzard last week.
Midweek snow in the Northeast
By Tuesday and into Wednesday, coastal sections of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic are forecast to see rain, while areas farther inland across Pennsylvania and interior New England should see mixed precipitation and snow, the weather service said.
A few snowflakes are even possible in the far northern suburbs of New York City, forecasters said, just days after record warmth of near 70 degrees overspread the city.
Northern New England will see the most snow from the storm, where up to a foot of snow is forecast, which is good news for ski areas in the region.
By late in the week, snow also is predicted to fall near the Great Lakes, as the first major lake-effect snow event of the year cranks up. "There's a potential for significant lake-effect snow later this week and into the weekend," the weather service in Buffalo, New York, warned.
In fact, AccuWeather said that up to six feet of snow is possible in some areas of western New York, and the weather service added that the snow could be "paralyzing" or even "crippling" in the Buffalo and Watertown metro areas.
WHAT IS LAKE-EFFECT SNOW?: Here's how it happens and how much snow it can bring with it.
Where to go for warm weather
Warm weather fans are out of luck as the cold weather looks to persist for at least the next week to 10 days across the majority of the U.S., the Climate Prediction Center said. High temperatures will likely be 10 to 20 degrees below average throughout the week, the weather service said.
In fact, according to the Weather Channel, some 275 million Americans are forecast to see below-average temperatures at some point this week.
Only South Florida is due to escape the cold blast, forecasters said, where highs in the low 80s are forecast for the next several days.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Snow, cold impacting much of US this week, weather forecast says