As a cold front pushes its way into spring-like warmth all week over the southern states, it will help fuel strong to severe thunderstorms across the area.
The weekend is also forecast to start off with measurable snowfall and an icy wintry mix that are expected to cause widespread hazardous travel conditions on New Year’s Day from the Central Plains to the Great Lakes.
Another round of severe storms
On the warm side of the front, ample moisture will help support storms capable of all severe weather hazards including large hail, damaging winds, flooding, frequent lightning, and tornadoes.
The greatest areas at risk on Saturday will be from the Ark-La-Tex region through West Virginia.
The SPC says there’ll be an enhanced risk of severe thunderstorms from Little Rock, Arkansas, to Birmingham, Alabama, and up to Lexington, Kentucky, Saturday into Sunday morning.
Flooding will also be a major concern, especially across Kentucky, where cleanup is still ongoing from the tornadoes that ripped through the western part of the state nearly three weeks ago.
Flood watches are in effect from eastern Oklahoma all the way through West Virginia.
Widespread rain totals of 1-3 inches are expected from western Arkansas to western Pennsylvania. Kentucky could see the highest amounts, up to 4 inches through the weekend.
Given that the ground is already saturated across Arkansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee, flooding and flash flooding are very possible, forecasters said.
New year, new (colder) weather
This could be the first significant snow event of the season for the Midwest, with widespread snowfall accumulations of 4 inches possible from eastern Kansas to Lake Michigan.
Heavier snow bands could result in even higher amounts of 6-8 inches or more along the Iowa/Missouri border and northern Illinois, resulting in widespread travel disruptions.
“Saturday morning, mountain ranges such as the Cascades, Sawtooth, Wasatch, and both the central and southern Rockies can expect 1 to 2 feet of snow with totals exceeding 3 feet in the highest elevations of Utah and Colorado,” the WPC explained.
You can’t have snow without cold, and there will be a major drop in temperatures this weekend.
Wind chill alerts are in effect for over half a dozen states across the northern Plains as subzero temperatures are forecast, with wind chills possible down to 45 degrees below zero.
As the arctic air continues farther south and east it will bring plummeting temperatures to some cities that have not yet felt winter’s chill.
Saturday, Memphis will go from highs around 70 degrees with thunderstorms down to highs in the mid 30s on Sunday, with some snow showers possibly mixed in.
The Dallas-Fort Worth area, which has set numerous high temperature records in the past two weeks, will also have high temperatures on Saturday in the low 70s, but by Sunday, high temps will drop to the upper 30s.
Did you say cold? Why not play some hockey? The Winter Classic outdoor game traditionally played on New Year’s Day will be in Minneapolis this year, and it’s going to be a cold one.
The high temperature on Saturday is only supposed to reach -2 degrees, but will be even colder when the game begins at 6 p.m. (7 p.m. ET) with a downright frozen temperature of -5 and a wind chill hovering around -20 degrees.