Over 5 million people in the Northeast United States faced winter storm warnings Friday while blizzard conditions slammed the upper Midwest, just days before winter’s official start.
There’s good news: the winter storm impacting the northern Plains and Midwest is expected to weaken heading into the weekend after several days of heavy snow and strong wind gusts, according to the National Weather Service.
Forecasters predicted heavy snow would impact parts Northeast into the weekend as well-below-average temperatures enter the north-central U.S. by Sunday.
Meanwhile, the South continued to assess damage Friday after dozens of tornadoes killed at least three people.
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Blizzard warnings continue as snow piles up in Midwest; up to 48 inches of snow recorded
Most of North Dakota and South Dakota and parts of eastern Montana were under blizzard warnings as a midweek storm continued to drop snow over the Midwest Friday.
In Cheyenne Crossing, South Dakota, 48-hour snowfall amounts reached 48 inches by Friday, according to AccuWeather meteorologist Alex DaSilva, who said the storm produced between 8 to 16 inches of snow across the Dakotas and Minnesota. AccuWeather experts expected snowfall to become increasingly scattered throughout Friday.
“We’re concerned about strong winds up to 50 mph and wind gusts to potentially 60 mph,” DaSilva said. “That could really blow the snow around through this afternoon before winds start to slowly come down later this evening.”
While conditions over the Dakotas and Northern Plains are expected to improve drastically into Saturday, the winter storm could cause concerns for lake-effect snow into the weekend as it pushes eastward into the Great Lakes, according to DaSilva.
“Areas like Marquette and Grand Rapids, Michigan, could see some accumulating snow from the lake effect as the storm brings gusty winds that will be coming out of the west Saturday and into early Sunday,” he said.
Ice, snow prompt winter storm warnings in Northeast
Snow and icy conditions pounded the Northeast Friday as winter storm warnings extended from northeastern Pennsylvania through upstate New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and a part of western Massachusetts. Snow is expected to continue scattering northwestward across northern New England into Saturday morning, according to AccuWeather.
The storm, which brought freezing rain to southern Pennsylvania and Maryland, also hit the Virginias with up to a half an inch of ice in some areas and triggered travel disruptions in the area, DaSilva said. The Virginia Department of Transportation warned drivers to drive with caution Friday as low temperatures could refreeze wet roads.
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Power companies were restoring electricity for at least 19,000 customers left in the dark in Alexandria, Virginia, Friday.
“Freezing rain did avoid the major metropolis areas, but it’s going to be an all-snow event mainly up across northern New England from the Green and White mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire and the Adirondacks in New York,” DaSilva said.
Winds could reach up to 50 mph along coastal New England, but most of the region can expect a dry weekend with the exception of northern Maine, according to DaSilva.
“It’ll still be snowing up there, and we’ll also have to watch for lake-effect snow showers that will come off of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario into portions of New York and western Pennsylvania,” he said.
South assesses damage after 40 confirmed tornadoes in three days
While frigid conditions impacted the northern U.S., cleanup across the South continued Friday after dozens of tornadoes left a trail of destruction from Texas to Florida and killed three people in Louisiana – including an 8-year-old boy and his mother.
“Those tornadoes that roared across the South were associated with a cold front that was attached to the the blizzard up in the Midwest,” DaSilva said.
At least 40 confirmed tornadoes touched down between Dec. 13-15, The Weather Channel reported, including 16 tornadoes rated as EF2 on the Enhanced Fujita scale.
EF2s can reach wind speeds of 135 mph, according to the National Weather Service.
Contributing: The Associated Press
Story Credit: usatoday.com