A major winter storm system is expected to hit parts of the United States with heavy snowfall and rain over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, meteorologists have warned.
The Upper and Mid Mississippi Valley could receive heavy snowfall on Friday, with potentially freezing rain expected to fall in parts of the Carolinas and southern Appalachia this weekend, according to the National Weather Service.
“Snow will cause reduced visibility and hazardous driving conditions,” the weather service said.
The system is already producing snowfall across the Northern Plains and upper Midwest, with heavy snowfall in parts of Minnesota and Iowa falling 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 northeast.
In a weekend forecast, NBC’s “TODAY” weather anchor 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 the rain would spread into the Tennessee valleys on Saturday and turn to snow in the evening, with snowfall expected over parts of Arkansas.
On Saturday night, rain is expected to move into parts of the southeast as it turns to snow over parts of the Tennessee Valley, the weather service said.
Snow is also expected to form over parts of central and southern Appalachia, with pockets of rain and freezing rain likely to develop over the Carolinas and southern Appalachia overnight Saturday through 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 the northeast Friday, and heavy snow is expected to fall to parts of southeast Maine Friday night.
Roker said the system was expected to move south before moving up the east coast on Sunday and Monday, bringing high winds and rain if it continues on its forecast track.
On Sunday, a winter mix is expected to hit parts of the Southeast, including Atlanta, as a major ice storm unfolds in the Carolinas.
Heavy snow along the Appalachian Mountains is also expected to increase in coverage and intensity as snow moves toward the mid-Atlantic, including Washington, DC and Philadelphia.
By Monday, a mix of rain and snow is likely for the Interstate 95 corridor, with the heaviest snow expected north and west in the interior regions.