Before enduring the harshest cold in years, many residents of the midwestern United States will face snow, slippery travel and disruptions to daily routines from Sunday to Monday.
Areas of snow and slick travel can continue to dot the region this weekend prior to the more significant snowstorm as bitterly cold air remains in place.
Highs will generally remain 10-25 degrees Fahrenheit below normal, in the single digits and teens, through the weekend.
A storm with a larger and more organized swath of snow will then take a nosedive southward into the northern Plains on Sunday before reaching the Great Lakes on Monday.
Enough snow can fall along this swath for plans and activities to be altered or canceled. Schools may be forced to use another snow day at the start of the new week, and people may have difficulties getting to work.
“The potential exists for the storm to drop a swath of 6 inches or more along the corridor from Fargo, North Dakota, to Minneapolis; Green Bay, Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Grand Rapids and Traverse City, Michigan,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski. “The northern suburbs of Chicago may also be targeted by the heavier snow band.”
“There can be a dramatic difference between heavy snowfall and then little to no snow and temperatures climbing above freezing over a span of about 50-100 miles,” she added. “The exact track of the storm will determine which areas are hit by or escape the snowstorm.”
Such disparity can set up over Chicagoland if the storm moves right over the city.
Even if the heaviest snow falls north of Chicago and Detroit, there can still be enough snow to cause slippery travel. In fact, the storm may be just as treacherous in these cities since any areas that turn slushy can become icy as the Arctic air blasts in behind the storm.
Stretches of interstates 29, 35, 75, 80, 90, 94 and 96 could be severely affected by the storm.
“The snow north of the storm’s track will be powdery, which will help ease the hardships of shoveling amid the frigid conditions,” Pydynowski said.
However, gusty winds whipping in with the storm can blow around the light and fluffy snow, creating blowing and drifting concerns as well as whiteouts on the roadways.
Strong winds will whip through the High Plains even in the absence of snow, with gusts past 50 mph possible from eastern Montana to Nebraska and Kansas from Sunday through Monday.
Such winds threaten to overturn high-profile vehicles on interstates 70, 80, 90 and 94.
“There can be significant disruptions to air travel, especially with the snow targeting Chicago for the Monday morning commute,” said Pydynowski. “Delays and cancellations at this major hub can impact those flying elsewhere across the U.S.”
Air travel can also be severely affected in Minneapolis and Detroit.
Download the AccuWeather app to see just how much snow will accumulate in your area.
To the delight of ski resorts and winter sports enthusiasts, the storm will also unleash a quick-hitting shot of snow along the spine of the Rockies. Denver may be whitened by a bit of snow on Monday.
Brutal cold will plunge into the nation’s midsection as the storm sweeps eastward early in the new week.
The cold can catch up to the tail end of the storm quickly enough for rain to changeover to snow in portions of the Ohio and Tennessee valleys and into part of the South from Monday night to Tuesday.
Even if no snow falls, wet sidewalks and roads can rapidly freeze and turn icy as the Arctic blast rushes in.
The impending cold is expected to be the harshest in years across the Midwestwith records set to fall and AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures anticipated to plunge to under 40 below zero F in many communities.
People in the Northeast should also keep a close eye on the storm, which can unleash disruptive snow in the region around Tuesday and Wednesday.
Winter storms create a unique set of challenges in the Northeast compared to other areas of the country. Great minds often come together to face the challenge. AccuWeather Meteorologist Dave Dombek joins WABC New York’s Chief Meteorologist, Lee Goldberg to talk about their years of collaboration taking on the big storms.
How cold do you think it’ll get? Make your prediction and play Forecaster Challenge.