A severe winter storm will move into the U.S. tonight and cause severe problems for large portions of the country, weather watchers warned. Meteorologists say the storm will move into the Midwest overnight and could push snow and ice as far south as Georgia. It will also cause more headaches for travelers already dealing with flight cancelations.
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch for Thursday night for northeastern South Dakota, southwestern Minnesota, and northwestern Iowa.
“Conditions are expected to rapidly deteriorate across parts of North Dakota tonight, before snow shifts into eastern South Dakota and southwest Minnesota on Friday morning,” the Weather Prediction Center said Thursday. “Widespread snowfall totals greater than 4 inches are likely, with over 8 inches possible from southeast North Dakota to central Iowa.”
What will happen next is unclear. The storm bands will push east and into portions of the South later Friday. Though, meteorologists aren’t sure how far south the storm will go. Once the winter storm reaches Tennessee, the data models break down, they said. Experts warned that storm bands carry heavy snows, ice, and wind gusts of up to 40 mph. So, they ask anyone in the storm’s potential path to prepare for these conditions.
“Although we are unable to know exactly where that will set up and pivot, it is important to let the public and our partners across the region know some areas could have substantially more snow — greater than 6 inches,” said the National Weather Service in Nashville.
The winter storm will move across the Midwest and into the Northeast over the weekend. AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Jon Porter said that the snowfall could reach feet deep in the parts of New York and New England.
Winter Storm, COVID Causing Serious Flight Problems
Bad winter weather and the coronavirus continue to hamper the airlines’ attempts to reset following weeks of mass cancelations. Airlines canceled nearly 2,300 flights in the U.S. as of 1 p.m. on Thursday, according to FlightAware. Airlines have already curtailed 1,000 flights for Friday. That number will rise as the winter storm slides into the Plains overnight.
Cancelations have topped at least 1,000 flights a day since Dec. 26. But the biggest problem facing the industry is COVID-19. Thousands of airline employees are out sick with the virus. It makes handling bad weather harder. United Airlines announced earlier this week that it cut hundreds of flights after more than 3,000 employees contracted it.
JetBlue Airways had to trim its flight plans because of COVID. Alaska Airlines did as well. American said it plans to do the same this week as infection rates continue to rise. Industry experts hoped that the airlines could take a breath as the holiday travel season ends.