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Here We Go Again: Powerful Winter Storm Set to Impact the Midwest and East Coast

Earlier this week a major winter storm moved through the center of the country, cutting power to more than 500,000 homes and disrupting hundreds of flights across the United States.

In the Midwest, heavy snow and high winds made for treacherous driving conditions and resulted in two fatalities. Severe thunderstorms ripped across the Deep South and East Coast, with numerous tornadoes and flash-flooding. Across the Northeast, heavy rainfall and an intense squall line lead to damaged homes and water rescues.

There will be no rest for the weary as yet another powerful storm system takes a similar trajectory during the second half of this week, bringing eerily similar impacts across dome of the same exact regions that are still recovering from this last event.

Weather model prediction and simulation
HRRR Model Prediction Over the Next 48 Hours

Full Breakdown of What to Expect Across Major Cities and Interstates Over the Next Several Days:

High-level overview of expected weather impacts:

Heavy snowfall and blizzard conditions across the Midwest:

  • The most extreme impacts from wind driven heavy snowfall will be across the Midwest, particularly the Great Lakes region.

  • Widespread snowfall totals of 6-12 inches are expected, with some areas potentially seeing up to 2 feet of snowfall before the system moves out

Damaging winds and power outages across the East Coast:

  • Similar to earlier this week, the eastern flank of the storm system will feature strong winds and could lead to widespread power outages and damage to homes or businesses.

  • Many states along the East Coast will see wind gusts between 35 and 50 mph, with coastal areas at risk for even higher wind gusts.

Flash Flood Risk in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast:

  • Parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast have seen record-breaking rainfall recently, and renewed heavy rain across the region has the potential to lead to very serious consequences.

  • Highest impact expected along and NW of the I-95 corridor from Washington DC to Boston.

Severe Thunderstorms across the Deep South and Southeast:

  • Strong to severe thunderstorms will impact the same exact region that saw damaging storms earlier this week.

  • The same threats will be at risk of repeating themselves: high winds >65 mph, flash-flooding, and tornadoes.

  • The threat will be highest from Alabama to North Carolina.

Road danger risk across parts of the midwest
24 Hour Road Danger Forecast From WeatherOptics Road Index

Timeline of expected impacts:

Midwest and Plains:

  • Snow will develop overnight Thursday and into early Friday morning across parts of NE, northern KS, and IA. The snow will become heavier during the early morning hours

  • Snow will quickly spread into northern IL and southern WI Friday morning and into the early afternoon hours. Snow will become heavy at times.

  • Winds will quickly pick up as the storm strengthens, leading to blizzard-like conditions and low visibility in places like Chicago, Milwaukee, Davenport, and Grand Rapids. During the storms peak intensity, areas like Chicago may flip to heavy rain and could lower snowfall totals substantially.

  • A flash-freeze is possible on the backside of the storm, with temperature quickly plummeting along with snow showers. Dangerous driving conditions and low visibility is likely

  • Michigan will be hit hardest late Friday and into Saturday. Heavy snowfall and blizzard conditions will be possible

  • Further south a mostly heavy rain event can be expected with some gusty winds and localized flooding

Weather impact to Chicago
Timeline of Road Conditions for Chicago Metro Area

East Coast from the Mid-Atlantic to New England:

  • A shield of heavy rain and high winds will push eastward Friday afternoon, first impacting WV, VA, and SW PA. Rain will be heavy with strong winds.

  • Rain should begin in Washington DC and Baltimore by Friday evening

  • Similar to earlier this week, there's potential for a squall line to form that may have embedded damaging wind gusts and very heavy rainfall. Flash-flooding and power outages will quickly become a concern

  • Further north across central PA and upstate NY, a burst of heavy snowfall will lead to reduced visibility and disrupted transportation. Snowfall rates will be intense initially with gusty winds before a changeover to mainly rain.

  • Overnight Friday the squall line will gain strength and push across south-central PA down to southern VA

  • The squall line will quickly move towards the I-95 corridor and into Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston. Flash-flooding and damaging winds are a serious concern once again

Flood risk for Philadelphia and suburbs
Timeline of Flood Risk for the Philadelphia Metro Area

Deep South and Southeast:

  • Thunderstorms will develop across eastern TX, LA, and AR late Thursday night and into early Friday morning. These storms have the potential to be severe with damaging winds and tornadoes

  • Storms will quickly progress into MS, AL, GA, and northern FL Friday morning and into the afternoon hours. There's a higher risk of tornadoes and damaging winds as the line of storms moves east

  • Severe storms will threaten the Carolinas Friday late afternoon and early evening, with a similar risk for damaging winds and tornadoes

Risk to life and property in parts of Alabama
Timeline of Life & Property Impacts for Suburbs of Birmingham, AL

Major Cities and Freight Lanes with High Impact from Powerful Storm:

  • Chicago, IL: Heavy snow and blizzard conditions possible at times. Snow may mix with and change over to rain for a period of time that is still uncertain. Winds may gust up to 50 mph; truck drivers are advised to be cautious on major highways, including I-90 and I-94. Expect shipments to be heavily delayed.

  • Omaha, NE: Moderate to heavy snow will make for dangerous travel conditions at times, especially as winds increase Friday morning and afternoon. Even as snow tapers, blowing snow will still cause visibility issues. Expect issues on corridors like I-80 and I-29.

  • Detroit, MI: Significant snowfall likely, and strong winds will make for low visibility at times. Significant impacts to transportation are expected on I-75 and surrounding areas.

Weather impacts along key routes in the Midwest
Expected Impacts to the I-80, I-90, and I-94 Corridors
East Coast:
  • New York City, NY: High winds and the potential for flash-flooding is likely; disruptions are expected along the I-95 corridor. Wind gusts of 35-50+ mph will be possible along with a few inches of rain.

  • Philadelphia, PA: Heavy rainfall, strong winds, and flash flooding will be a major concern, affecting I-76 and I-95. Wind gusts of 35-50+ mph will be possible along with a few inches of rain.

  • Boston, MA: Strong winds and flash-flooding will be the main threats for the Boston metro area. Power outages and some damage will be possible; I-90 (Massachusetts Turnpike) is likely to be impacted significantly. Wind gusts of 35-50+ mph will be possible along with a few inches of rain.

Weather impact on key corridors in the Northeast
Expected Impacts to the I-95, I-84, and I-90 Corridors
Deep South and Southeast:
  • Little Rock, AR: Severe thunderstorms may produce heavy rainfall, high winds, and isolated tornadoes. There will be scattered risks along I-30 and I-40. Where storms do have direct impact, it may be severe.

  • Jackson, MS: I-55 and I-20 will be at risk of scattered severe thunderstorms capable of producing damaging wind gusts, heavy rain, and isolated tornadoes. Expect disruptions to business operations and travel.

  • Atlanta, GA: Elevated risk of severe thunderstorm, especially just south of the city. Tornadoes will be one of the main threats, along with torrential rain and high wind gusts at times. I-75 and I-20 may see some impacts.

  • Columbia, SC: I-20, I-26, and I-77 may see impacts from severe thunderstorms across the region. Tornadoes will be the biggest threat. There is the potential for a few strong tornadoes. While scattered, where the storms do hit, impacts are likely to be significant.

  • Raleigh, NC: Damaging wind gusts and flash flooding will threaten the city and the surrounding suburbs. I-40 and I-440 could see significant impacts on certain sections of roadway. Businesses and warehouses in the region could also see substantial impacts.

Weather impact on key corridors in the deep south
Expected Impacts to the I-20, I-85, and I-77 Corridors

How to Prepare Your Organization Before Bad Weather Strikes:

  1. Have a clear protocol in place: It's important for businesses to have clear direction on what needs to be done before, during, and after high impact weather events. Preparation and simulating real situations can ensure that teams are equipped to handle different types of weather events.

  2. Understand weather's impact on key operations: It's important that you utilize software that is able to translate weather data into real impact insights on how weather is going to actually affect key business operations like transportation, power, and damage to infrastructure. This can save your organization time, money, and allow you to avoid costly errors.

  3. Automate your process: Manually checking how key locations, lanes, and shipments are going to be impacted by severe weather can be time consuming and more prone to errors. Having an automated system that mirrors your specific operations and can provide insights relevant to you, is crucial.

  4. Streamline alerts and communication: Organizations need to be unified and on the same page during high impact weather events. A single source of truth can be helpful, and configuring or automating alerts to be sent out to certain teams when certain thresholds are met allows for a more streamlined process of action.

  5. Integrate directly with existing systems: These days enterprise businesses have a ton of different platforms they utilize for a variety of reasons. Adding another login for weather insights can be a less-than-ideal setup. It's important the weather provider you work with can integrate into existing TMS, ELD, or business intelligence platforms that your organization is already comfortable with.

The WeatherOptics Insight Portal

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