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Eastern US braces for strong weekend winter storm

Supply chain impacts likely from Southeast to Northeast

(Photo: NCDOT)

Transportation crews in the South have been deploying their brine trucks to get ready for an approaching winter storm. Spraying brine before a winter storm begins can prevent snow and rain from freezing on the roads or at least reduce the amount of time it takes for the freezing to occur.

After the storm dumps several inches of snow in parts of the Midwest on Friday, it will move across the Southeast on Saturday and Sunday. Along its journey, it will phase, or merge, with another system coming from eastern Texas. This will allow the storm to pull plenty of moisture off the Gulf of Mexico.

Precipitation may start as rain or freezing rain, changing to snow in some locations as temperatures drop. Places from the Ozarks in Arkansas to western parts of the Carolinas are likely to be hit with freezing rain and icy conditions, as well as snow. This includes Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee; parts of the Atlanta area; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Related: Chaining up: 4 pro tips for truckers

The biggest snow totals will probably pile up in the southern Appalachians of eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina, where the highest elevations could see 12 to 20 inches.

The storm will likely intensify late Sunday and Monday (Martin Luther King Jr. Day) as it travels up the East Coast, becoming a strong nor’easter.

The storm will impact, to varying degrees, much of the Interstate 95 corridor from the Southeast to New England. However, the most significant impacts and severe disruptions from heavy snow will likely be across the interior Northeast, from the central Appalachians to northern New England.

Most high-population centers and major freight hubs along I-95 in the Northeast will only be rainy, along with high winds. So power outages and coastal flooding are possible.

Truckers may not be able to run in some parts of the potential impact zones. At the least, they will have to slow down or stop at times, leading to significant delays.

Major lanes of concern

• Interstate 20 from Florence, South Carolina, to Atlanta.
• Interstate 40 from Memphis to Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.
• Interstate 55 from St. Louis to Memphis.
• Interstate 65 from Huntsville, Alabama, to Nashville.
• Entire Interstate 81 corridor.
• Interstate 85 from Petersburg, Virginia, to Atlanta.
• Interstate 95 from Florence to the Maine-Canada border.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

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Nick Austin

Nick is a meteorologist with 20 years of forecasting and broadcasting experience. He was nominated for a Midsouth Emmy for his coverage during a 2008 western Tennessee tornado outbreak. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from the Georgia Tech. Nick is a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in February 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” eight consecutive years.