Heavy Snow, Ice Target I-10 and I-95 in SouthInvading arctic air will set the stage for substantial snow and ice to fall this week
Updated Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, 7:23 p.m. ET
The polar blast now invading the East and South will set the stage for snow and ice to cause significant disruptions in the South on Tuesday through Wednesday.
High temperatures are forecast to be in the 30s as far south as the I-10 corridor from Houston to Pensacola, Fla., and Charleston, S.C., on Tuesday.
With that cold air in place, a storm system will tap into enough moisture from the Gulf of Mexico to allow snow and ice to develop from central Texas to the eastern Carolinas on Tuesday through Wednesday.
Houston and Austin, Texas; New Orleans; Mobile, Ala.; Jackson, Miss.; Pensacola and Tallahassee, Fla.; Savannah, Atlanta and Macon, Ga.; Charleston, Myrtle Beach and Columbia, S.C.; Norfolk, Va.; and Raleigh, Wilmington and the Outer Banks of North Carolina lie within this zone.
Sleet could even make an appearance in Jacksonville.
While the infrequent snow will be a welcome sight for children and those young at heart, this will be a major winter storm for the I-10 corridor and the eastern Carolinas.
Comparable events for this storm and the area of concern include Jan. 10, 2011. According to National Weather Service Meteorologist Emily Timte, "The storm of 2011 clobbered parts of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina with between 0.50 and 1.00 inch of ice."
A snowstorm spanning Feb. 11 to 13, 2010, captured part of the same area forecast to be hit by the system into this Wednesday. The storm during 2010 reached from Longview, Texas, to Cape Hatteras, N.C., where it put down a swath of 4 to 8 inches of snow along much of the way.
The amount of snow and ice (whether falling as sleet or freezing rain) could be substantial, leading to school closures, extremely treacherous travel and flight cancellations.
Residents and travelers should prepare for significant disruptions. This includes motorists planning to travel on Interstates 10, 40, 45, 65, 75 and 95.
Snow totals are expected to top 3 inches from southeastern Alabama to eastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia. This zone stretches across Montgomery, Ala., and Augusta, Ga., and lies just east of Raleigh.
A small area in part of the Carolinas are forecast to receive between 6 and 10 inches of snow from this storm, including Fayetteville, N.C. and Columbia, S.C.
In between the snow and plain rain across the Florida Peninsula will be substantial sleet and freezing rain. Power outages are a serious concern, especially where most of the winter storm produces freezing rain.
The storm has the potential to rival damage and the number of outages from the southern ice storm of Feb. 10-11, 1994. According to the New York Times, the storm in 1994 reached from the lower Mississippi Valley to the southeastern knocked out power to 800,000 people.
The storm Tuesday into Wednesday has the potential to rival damage from the 1994 event but will tend to focus more toward part of the Gulf and southern Atlantic coasts.
The winter storm could linger along the Carolina coast for a time on Thursday before heading out to sea.
The storm should not turn northward to graze the Northeast. The impending arctic blast will instead push the storm track well offshore, offering protection to the Northeast.
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