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Significant ice storm to hit several states

Worst conditions likely in the South

(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

An ice storm will spread across a dozen states over the next two days, making travel virtually impossible for truckers.

Moisture feeding off the Gulf of Mexico will interact with cold air drifting into portions of the South. This will cause widespread freezing rain and ice Wednesday and Thursday from eastern Oklahoma and the mid-Mississippi Valley to the mid-Atlantic.

Tuesday evening, the National Weather Service issued ice storm warnings where they expect the worst conditions: central and northeastern Arkansas, including Little Rock; the Missouri Bootheel; southern Illinois; northwestern Tennessee; as well as Paducah, Hopkinsville, Bowling Green, Lexington and London, Kentucky. These areas could see up to a half inch of ice buildup.

Places that could be hit with a glaze to two-tenths of an inch of ice include Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma; Springfield, Missouri; Evansville, Indiana; Memphis, Tennessee; Louisville, Kentucky; Huntington and Charleston, West Virginia; and much of Virginia. Precipitation will mostly be snowfall from Washington and Baltimore to Philadelphia, southern New Jersey and the Delmarva Peninsula.

Drivers will probably have the most issues on major interstates such as I-35, I-40, I-44, I-55, I-64, I-65, I-70, I-76, I-81 and I-90. There’s potential for widespread, long-lasting road closures.

Besides surface transportation disruptions, air cargo delays are likely with the potential of flight cancellations and/or airport closings. Loading and unloading of freight at intermodal ramps may also be interrupted due to the harsh conditions. Movement of commodities (agriculture and energy) could also be disrupted and widespread power outages are possible in areas receiving the most ice accumulation.

The storm will gradually fade Thursday in the South while continuing in the mid-Atlantic. However, supply chain impacts could linger into the weekend as cold weather stays in place and roads remain frozen.

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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.