A major winter storm system is expected to hit parts of the United States with heavy snowfall and rain over Martin Luther King Jr.’s holiday weekend, meteorologists have warned.
The upper and middle Mississippi Valley could receive heavy snowfall on Friday, with potentially freezing rains expected to fall over parts of the Southern Carolinas and Appalachians this weekend, according to the National Weather Service.
“The snow will cause reduced visibility and dangerous driving conditions,” the weather service said.
The system is already producing snowfall in the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest, with heavy snowfall in parts of Minnesota and Iowa at rates of one to two inches per hour. Fifty-one million people are subject to winter storm warnings, watches and advisories from the Upper Midwest to the Southeast and interior of the Northeast.
In a weekend forecast, NBC’s “TODAY” weather presenter Al Roker said the storm system could bring six to 12 inches of snow stretching from the Dakotas to Missouri.
Rain is also expected to develop over parts of the Middle Mississippi Valley Friday evening through Saturday morning, with isolated pockets of freezing rain also possible, according to the weather service.
The weather service said rain would spread across the Tennessee valleys on Saturday and turn to snow in the evening, with snowfall expected over parts of Arkansas.
Rain is expected to move into parts of the southeast and turn to snow over parts of the Tennessee Valley overnight Saturday, the weather service said.
Snow is also expected to form over parts of the central and southern Appalachians, with pockets of rain and freezing rain potentially developing over the Carolinas and southern Appalachians overnight from Saturday to Sunday morning.
Meanwhile, strong gusty winds are expected over parts of the northeast from Friday afternoon to Saturday morning amid high pressure over east-central Canada and an area of low pressure moving north off the Carolina coast to the northeast coast.
Light snow is expected to reach parts of northeast Friday, and heavy snow is expected to fall over parts of southeastern Maine overnight Friday.
Roker said the system is expected to move south before moving up the east coast on Sunday and Monday, bringing high winds and rain if it continues on its intended course.
A winter mix is expected to hit parts of the southeast, including Atlanta on Sunday, as a major ice storm rolls over the Carolinas.
Heavy snowfall along the Appalachian Mountains is also expected to increase in coverage and intensity as the snow moves toward the mid-Atlantic, including Washington, DC and Philadelphia.
By Monday, a mixture of rain and snow is likely for the Interstate 95 corridor, with the heaviest snow expected north and west through interior locations.