Fog, Rain, Ice and Snow to Hinder Early Christmas Travel
By Alex Sosnowski, Expert Senior Meteorologist
December 18, 2013; 5:28 AM
Several storms will produce areas of rain, ice and snow with areas of dense fog which can cause trouble for travelers over the Central, Eastern and Northwestern states beginning Friday and continuing into the week of Christmas.
The atmosphere will change gears over the next week to a pattern that will briefly send warmer air into the eastern third of the nation. Temperatures may challenge with record highs.
The warmth will mean no snow or ice problems for millions of people in the South, Ohio Valley, mid-Atlantic and southeastern New England. However, that warmth will also be accompanied by episodes of rain and fog that can still lead to travel delays.
According to Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams, "Conditions will be favorable for extensive fog to form with the warmup, even in the absence of heavy rain."
The fog could settle over long stretches of highways and delay flights for hours at some major airports.
On Friday, one storm will spread some rain and drizzle from the Ohio Valley to the central Appalachians and southern New England. Because of a cold ground, fog may form with or without snow cover and affect the cities of the cities of Pittsburgh, New York and Boston.
Farther north, from that same Friday storm, some snow and a wintry mix will reach eastward across from parts of Michigan to upstate New York and northern New England. While snowfall with this system will be considered to be minor, enough can fall to cause slippery roads.
Showers and patchy fog will also reach from the central Gulf Coast to the southern Appalachians with that system Friday and Saturday.
A storm will affect the Northwest Friday into Saturday. That storm will bring some coastal rain and fog in Washington and Oregon, including Seattle and Portland, Ore. Snow changing to rain and fog will affect the passes in the Cascades for a time. Enough snow can fall over the passes in the northern Rockies into the first part of the weekend to slow travel, including along I-90.
Yet another storm is forecast to become the major weather maker prior to Christmas over the eastern half of the nation spanning Saturday to Monday.
A large swath of precipitation will develop Saturday over the South Central states and is projected to expand northeastward to New England later in the weekend and then slice eastward across the South and mid-Atlantic into Monday.
Within most of this area, rain will fall thanks to a surge of warmer air.
The rain can become heavy enough to cause urban flooding. Cities that have a chance of heavy rain include Dallas, Memphis, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City and Boston. With the rain will come with the potential for episodes of dense fog.
A zone of ice and snow is likely to develop on the northwestern fringe of the rain area. How close this gets to major airport hubs, such as Oklahoma City, Kansas City, Mo., Chicago, Detroit and St. Louis is uncertain at this time.
There is also a risk of severe thunderstorms in part of the south from the second storm.
According to AccuWeather.com Severe Weather Expert Henry Margusity, "We could be looking at a severe weather outbreak including a few tornadoes beginning from central and eastern Texas to the lower Mississippi Valley with this second storm Saturday into Sunday."
In the wake of the second storm with its rain, fog, ice and snow will follow a push of chilly air. While this is not likely to be as cold as some prior Arctic outbreaks thus far, it may get cold enough to cause wet areas to freeze.
Details on the exact location of rain, versus snow and ice, and accompanying fog on a day-to-day basis will be released on AccuWeather.com as they become available.