Historic Ice Storm Immobilizes Ground, Air Travel In the South

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

AccuWeather.com reports a storm bringing heavy ice and snow to the interior South will reach the Northeast Wednesday night and Thursday with a snow and ice storm that will severely impact travelers and residents from northern Georgia to the Carolinas into Wednesday night.

The event could be the worst ice storm for parts of the South in more than 10 years.

One batch of snow, sleet, rain and freezing rain affected the South Monday into Tuesday and caused hundreds of flight delays in the region.

As of Wednesday morning the number of flights have been canceled has swelled to more than 2,000 at Atlanta International Airport alone.

Another batch of snow and ice will hit many of the same areas Wednesday and into Wednesday night.

According to AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski, "For many areas east of I-59 and near and north of I-20, this part of the storm will be much worse than the first."

Much colder air pressed southward into these areas Tuesday night, setting the stage for major wintry problems on Wednesday.

The wintry precipitation on Wednesday afternoon will focus on an area stretching from northern Georgia to central and upstate South Carolina, and much of North Carolina and Virginia. Some snow and ice will also reach into portions Tennessee.

In many cases, roads may be too dangerous for travel due to freezing rain, sleet and snow. There is the potential to become stranded. If you drive, there is the risk of not only putting yourself at risk but also your would-be rescuers.

For folks that absolutely must travel, allow extra time in anticipation for delays as the snow and ice can rapidly accumulate on roadways, especially on bridges and overpasses.

While sleet is hazardous and difficult to remove, freezing rain brings the greatest risk for power outages and travel. This storm will bring both to many communities. However, the communities that receive between 0.50 and 1.00 inch of freezing rain could face severe problems.

Earlier in the week Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal announced a State of Emergency for more than 80 counties in the state ahead of the winter storm. Also, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley issued a state of emergency for the entire state. A state of emergency was in effect for all of the Carolinas and Virginia on Wednesday.

According to Senior Meteorologist Mark Mancuso, "This has all the makings of a historic ice storm from northern Georgia to central and upstate South Carolina to central North Carolina through Wednesday."

Much of this area lies along and just southeast of I-85. Along much of this major thoroughfare, heavy snow will fall as well.

The area from around Atlanta to Columbia, S.C., and Fayetteville and Raleigh, N.C., may be ground zero for the ice storm. Some communities may experience great devastation from freezing rain. Ice and snow along the Carolina coast will change to plain rain later Wednesday.

A heavy buildup of freezing rain on trees and power lines can lead to scores of fallen trees, widespread power outages and bring travel to a halt.

"A number of communities over the interior South may have more significant, much longer-lasting sleet, freezing rain and snow when compared to the storm from late January," AccuWeather.com Southern Weather Expert Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski said.

It may take many days for power to be completely restored across this area due to heavy icing over such a large area.

"While parts of the South are hit with an ice storm about once every three years, this storm could have a similar outcome to that of 2002 for some locations," Kottlowski said.

Heavy snow will fall on the northern Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia mountains with some locations forecast to receive a foot of snow or more. A half of a foot to a foot of snow may fall Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and Charlotte, N.C., and Roanoke, Va. The snow will precede heavy ice around Raleigh and Fayetteville, N.C.

Although locations along the I-10 corridor will escape the danger the ice brings, heavy rain associated with the storm can lead to localized flooding, especially in low-lying and poor-drainage areas.

Parts of the Florida Peninsula will be hit with severe thunderstorms into Wednesday night.

This storm will continue to track up the East Coast heading into Thursday, delivering over a foot of snow to portions of the Northeast.

 

 


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