Storm To Delay Christmas Travel For More Than Half Of U.S.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013 reports multiple 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 over the next several days.

The largest storm of the bunch will hit this weekend and will affect nearly 30 states and over 100 million people.

The atmosphere will quickly change gears the next few days 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. Enough cold air will be present with the storm to bring some snow to near sea level in western Washington, including around Seattle, Friday morning. Snow will fall over the passes in the Cascades Friday before a change to rain. Periods of snow and slippery travel is likely Friday and Saturday over portions of the northern Rockies.

Yet another storm is forecast to take shape over the South Central states Saturday and quickly expand northward and eastward Sunday. The storm will become the major weather maker prior to Christmas over the eastern half of the nation. Major travel disruptions are likely from this storm.

The weekend storm will bring rain and not snow to areas from much of Texas to northern Florida to coastal Maine, 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 and Boston. With the rain will come with the potential for episodes of dense fog and low ceilings, which could add to flight delays and cause cancellations.

A zone of ice and snow is expected to develop on the northwestern fringe of the rain area. Metro areas that could be hit with travel delays include Oklahoma City, Kansas City, Mo., Chicago and Detroit.

The storm will also have major impact on neighboring Canada. There is the risk of heavy ice affecting a large part of southern Ontario, including the greater Toronto area. A heavy wintry mix is possible for Ottawa and Montreal.

There is also a risk of severe thunderstorms in part of the South from the second storm.

According to 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 that will last into Christmas Day. 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.

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