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Weekend snowstorm to slam Northeast

Rain forecast to change to heavy snow Friday night

(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Truckers will hit a blast of heavy snow and high winds in parts of the Northeast for the first half of the weekend.

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A low-pressure system will track from the southern U.S. toward the Northeast on Friday. At the same time, a strong cold front will approach from the Midwest and Plains. Along the way, these systems will intensify, producing rain that will change to heavy snow Friday night and Saturday, fading by Saturday night.

The biggest snow totals will pile up along the spine of the Appalachians and interior areas of the Northeast, as well as parts of southeastern Canada. Look for accumulations of 6 to 12 inches in high elevations of West Virginia, western Pennsylvania, upstate New York and northern New England. A few spots could see up to 15 or 16 inches.

Winds are going to howl, with gusts of 35 to 45 mph and periods of blowing snow and potential whiteout conditions. Visibility may drop quickly at times where winds are strongest and snowfall rates are the most intense.

The major cities and freight hubs along Interstate 95 in the Northeast will see either a rain-snow mix or a transition from rain to snow. However, snow amounts will be much less than in interior portions of the region. Still, winds will be strong in these places as well, with areas of blowing snow and an elevated risk of rollovers. As temperatures fall Saturday night, black ice could form on many roads. This could all lead to localized severe transportation disruptions.

Rain may also change to accumulating snow in parts of the South, in Tennessee, northern sections of Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, as well as eastern Kentucky, western North Carolina and western Virginia.

Impacts on major highways and secondary routes will include a variety of issues ranging from reduced speeds to possible major slowdowns. Long-term road closures may occur in some places.

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Business operations are likely to be disrupted for a few days as workers experience difficulties making it to work due to treacherous travel conditions. Additionally, loading and unloading of freight and intermodal ramp operations are likely to be delayed in the affected areas. Air cargo may also be delayed due to potential flight delays and cancellations.

The strong winds could cause scattered to widespread power outages. The most significant power outages will likely be in areas closer to the coast where winds will be strongest. Even livestock operations could be impacted due to the harsh conditions and possible power outages. Movement of commodities on rails may also be disrupted.

Major lanes of concern

• Interstate 24 in Tennessee from Clarksville to Chattanooga.
• Interstate 40 in Tennessee from Nashville to Knoxville.
• Interstate 70 from Wheeling, West Virginia, to Baltimore.
• Interstate 76 from Wheeling to Philadelphia.
• Interstate 80 from Youngstown, Ohio, to Teaneck, New Jersey.
• Interstate 81 from Jefferson City, Tennessee, to Watertown, New York.
• Interstate 90 from Buffalo, New York, to Boston.
• Interstate 95 from Washington 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.