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Millions to face storm impacts this week: Snow, rain, wind and gusty thunderstorms to unfold [early February]
by Alex Sosnowski

Travel ranging from a routine daily commute to a cross-country venture will be affected by a significant storm in the central and eastern United States early this week.

A major storm with drenching rain, ice, snow, strong winds and the potential for gusty thunderstorms is in store early this week for the central and eastern parts of the nation.

A storm will first take shape over the southern Plains on Monday then strengthen while traveling northeastward toward the lower Great Lakes on Tuesday.

How strong the storm becomes will determine the magnitude of wintry precipitation, wind and thunderstorms, as well as the extent of rain and warmth.

"At this juncture, it appears the bulk of the storm will bring rain around the Ohio Valley and lower Great Lakes regions on Tuesday and into Wednesday," according to AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok.

Around the lower Great Lakes, the storm could begin and end as a period of snow or a wintry mix.

From interior parts of the mid-Atlantic to northern New England, the forecast is less certain.

"If cold air holds its ground for a time, a significant amount of snow and ice can occur over interior locations of the Northeast," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist John Gresiak.

At this time, areas from central and northern New York state to northern Connecticut on north have the best chance of significant ice buildup during the first part of the storm.

"If cold air gives up easily, drenching rain will sweep rapidly northward, and there could be problems such as urban and poor drainage area flooding," Gresiak said.

The storm is likely to be strong enough to produce gusty winds around the Great Lakes spanning Tuesday through Thursday.

Since much of the lakes are free of ice, the wind and wave action could produce lake-shore flooding in some communities. Airline delays could also occur due to the gusty winds at the major hubs in the region.

On the northwestern flank of the storm, enough cold air will be present to allow all or mostly snow to fall from the foothills of the Rockies and parts of the central Plains to the Upper Midwest and far northern New England. Strengthening winds will likely cause blowing and drifting snow in this swath.

As the storm tracks toward the Great Lakes, warm and humid air will surge in across the South.

The strength of the storm could be enough to spawn heavy, gusty thunderstorms from the Lower Mississippi Valley to the Tennessee River Valley, with less intense thunderstorms extending as far north as the Ohio Valley and a portion of the mid-Atlantic coast during the period from Tuesday to Wednesday.

In the wake of the big storm, cold air will circulate from the northern Plains to much of the Atlantic coast during the second half of the week.

A possible second storm could impact areas from the Appalachians to the Atlantic coast. How much moisture remains as the cold air returns will determine whether or not a period of snow develops.

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