I-80, 90 corridors over interior Northeast at risk for dangerous snow squalls

Renee Duff

The snowstorm that pummeled the northern Plains and brought snow and ice to parts of the Northeast beginning over the weekend may prove just as disruptive as it targets the eastern Great Lakes and central Appalachians with snow and snow squalls through Tuesday evening.

As cold air wraps in behind the storm, places that had a seemingly springlike end to the weekend with rain and temperatures in the 50s and 60s F have turned wintry in a hurry.

Snow swept through Chicago Monday night and created slippery travel with temperatures in the middle 20s and an AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperature near zero. Less than 48 hours prior, it was in the upper 50s.

This radar image shows snow advancing across the lower Great Lakes region while snow showers were developing over the central Appalachians during the midday hours Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019.

Detroit was the next stop for the snow and slippery conditions early Tuesday morning as temperature fell below the freezing mark.

The snow then swung through Cleveland during the midday hours. However, above-freezing temperatures allowed much of the snow to melt as it fell on roads in the downtown area. Outside of town, where temperatures were a bit lower, slippery conditions were developing.

As the leading edge of colder air advances and encounters milder air, the patch of snow is likely to become more narrow, but perhaps more intense. The pattern is expected to evolve into a couple of bands narrow bands of heavy snow or snow squalls from central Ohio to northern and western Pennsylvania and western New York state.

"This snow squalls, have the potential to rapidly reduce the visibility and coat roads in a matter of seconds," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

"As we have seen in recent weeks and prior years, snow squalls can be extremely dangerous for motorists traveling at high speed on the major highways," Sosnowski added.

Motorists are urged to slow down when the snow moves in, especially while traveling over bridges and overpasses. Timing for the snow squalls is likely to be during Tuesday morning over southern Michigan, northern Indiana and northwestern Ohio, during the day Tuesday over northeastern Ohio and Tuesday afternoon and night in parts of northern and western Pennsylvania and western New York.

The mild conditions preceding the snow will cause it to initially melt on the pavement, but as temperatures lower and the snow continues to fall, conditions can quickly turn slippery on untreated roadways.

Wind gusts past 30 mph at times around the Great Lakes region will further add to the travel difficulties.

"Blowing and drifting snow may continue to reduce visibility and bring snow back on to previously-cleared roadways," AccuWeather Meteorologist Courtney Travis said.

The snow and cold air will reach areas downwind of lakes Erie and Ontario later Tuesday. While snowfall amounts are not expected to be nearly as impressive as areas farther east in northern New England, just enough snow can fall to create treacherous roadway conditions.

"As the storm exits, lake-effect snow will pick up downwind of lakes Superior and Michigan into New Year's Day," Travis said.

Any lake-effect snow behind the storm will be short-lived as an area of high pressure will be quick to move into the area and disrupt the flow of cold winds over the lakes.

AccuWeather meteorologists will then be monitoring the next storm set to track into the region after it first delivers soaking rain to the South. This storm may tap into just enough of the cold air in place to lay down a swath of accumulating snow in part of the Midwest.

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