Major northeast snow, ice storm into Groundhog Day

Alex Sosnowski

AccuWeather  reports a two-part major winter storm with snow and ice will disrupt travel and daily activities over a large part of the Northeast into Groundhog Day.

The storm is beginning to hit the Plains now and will focus on the Midwest Tuesday. However, snow and ice will streak eastward into the Northeast during Tuesday as well.

As the storm progresses into Wednesday, it will bring dangers from the risk of falling trees and power lines under the weight of a glaze of ice in some areas and roof collapses under the weight of heavy snow in others.

While the worst of the storm will miss some heavily populated areas in the Northeast, it will not miss all of these locations.

The storm will be very complex and will span 48 hours in many locations, much longer than a typical winter storm. For some locations, this will be a two-part event with two periods of precipitation and a lull in between.

The storm will result in wet roads in southernmost areas, snowcovered roads in northern areas and snowy, icy and wet roads in the middle.

A couple of degrees difference in temperature may be all that lies between gridlock and relatively minor travel issues.

The storm will directly or indirectly impact flights in the major hubs of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore/Washington and Pittsburghin the Northeast as it is also forecast to hit the Midwest and Plains very hard as well, including Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis and Denver.

All-Out Snowstorm

The heaviest snow from the storm is aiming from southern Maine and northern Massachusetts westward through much of western and northern New York state and southwestern Ontario.

Cities from Portland, Maine, and Concord, N.H., to Albany, Binghampton and Rochester, N.Y., could be facing 1 to 2 feet of snow. For portions of central New England, the weight of the new snow on top of the old snow and ice may be too much for some roofs to handle.

Snow and Ice Mix

From Boston and Providence to Hartford, New York City, Scrantonand Erie, Pa., a change to a wintry mix, including ice, will occur at the height of the storm, but not before enough snow to shovel and plow occurs.

Ice will cause problems in part of this snow area, enough to weigh down trees and power lines and add weight to roofs in southern New England.

Ice Storm

A major ice storm is a prime concern stretching in a narrow band from the south coast of New England to the northern and western suburbs of New York City and Philadelphia through central and southwestern Pennsylvania into the Ohio Valley states.

The ice build-up would follow a relatively modest amount of snow, considering what storms have produced along the East Coast earlier this winter. The risk area includes the cities of Hartford, Conn.; White Plains, N.Y.; Netcong, N.J.; Allentown, Reading, York and State College, Pa.

The key to the extent of damage in this area will be whether most of the ice falls as freezing rain or sleet. Sleet would pose major travel problems, but it would not cling to trees and power lines, like freezing rain would.

Some areas could be hit with a large amount of sleet, then freezing rain, acting like "super glue." Roads, sidewalks and cars could be encased in a half-inch thick layer of this nearly impenetrable stuff.

Brief Wintry Mix

Most areas south of the Mason-Dixon Line will have the least amount of wintry mix and mostly rain. However, the swath from southern NewJersey to the northern Delmarva Peninsula to much of Maryland, northern and western Virginia and northern West Virginia will have at least a few hours of slippery travel to contend with. Ice may linger over part of western Maryland for an extended period.

Cities within this mix to rain zone include Atlantic City, N.J., Philadelphia; Dover, Washington/Baltimore, Winchester, Va., and Morgantown, W.Va. For these areas, the primary concern for slippery travel is tonight into Tuesday morning.

Because of its impact in more than two dozen states and affecting over 100 million people expanding beyond the Northeast, this storm has the potential to be the worst of the winter thus far.

Spanning a multi-region area over half a million people could be in the cold, without power, as temperatures plummet in the wake of the storm.

For a complete local forecast visit our media partner, WCVB at thebostonchannel.com.