For truckers dreaming of a white Christmas, be careful what you wish for. Along with the snowfall in many northern states, winds will be dangerous, creating blizzard conditions and near-zero visibility.
Snowfall totals of 4 to 8 inches will be common Wednesday along the Interstate 29 corridor, from just north of Omaha, Nebraska, to Grand Forks and Fargo, North Dakota. Portions of I-90 and I-94 are also under the gun, including places such as Norfolk, Nebraska; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Sioux City, Iowa; as well as Rochester and St. Cloud, Minnesota.
Blizzard warnings remain in place for these areas until through Wednesday evening. Wind gusts will reach 50 to 60 mph, possibly exceeding 60 mph at times. This will lead to major snow drifts, in addition to blowing snow and whiteout conditions.
The fast-moving Midwest storm will track across the eastern Great Lakes and interior Northeast from Christmas Eve through Christmas morning (Thursday into Friday). Snowfall accumulations will range from 4 to 8 inches, but areas just downwind of lakes Erie and Ontario could get slammed with 10 inches or more. Lake-effect snowfall in those spots may linger into Saturday.
Wind gusts could reach 30 to 40 mph, but may be as strong as 50 mph at times. This will cause significant blowing and drifting snow, reducing visibility.
Cities where drivers may have the most trouble include Charleston, West Virginia; Cleveland; Buffalo and Rochester, New York; and Pittsburgh. Interstate highways within this zone include I-70, I-76, I-79, I-80, I-81, I-86 and I-90.
Other windy regions
High winds will increase the risk of rollovers Wednesday and Thursday in areas that won’t get snowfall the next few days. Gusts of 50 to 70 mph will make deadheading (hauling empty trailers) or carrying light loads risky from the front range of the Rockies to western portions of the Dakotas, Nebraska and Kansas. Winds will also be rough across eastern Texas, much of Oklahoma and Missouri, Illinois, eastern Iowa and western Indiana.
Thursday and Christmas Day, strong winds will pound the Northeast, including the I-95 corridor. From Baltimore and Washington to Boston and Maine, gusts could hit 50 to 60 mph. Along the coast and just offshore, from the mid-Atlantic to New England, gusts may reach 60 to 70-plus mph. These winds will be coming off the Atlantic, so coastal flooding is possible.