Significant Ice Storm Possible From Southern Plains to Virginia

Published in 10 February, 2021

At a Glance

  • An ice storm will impact areas from north Texas to Virginia through early Friday.

  • Ice accumulations may lead to tree damage and power outages in some areas.

  • There will also be more snow for the recently snow-fatigued East and Midwest.

A winter storm will spread freezing rain, sleet and snow from north Texas to the mid-Atlantic through early Friday, creating hazardous travel conditions while also potentially damaging trees and knocking out power in some areas.

This system has been named Winter Storm Shirley by The Weather Channel.

The ice and snow from this winter storm is being generated by jet-stream disturbances rippling through a battleground zone between much colder air in the northern states and milder air in the South.

The National Weather Service has issued a potpourri of winter alerts from northern Texas to the mid-Atlantic, including winter storm watches, warnings, winter weather advisories, even ice storm warnings. Locations in these watches and warnings could see significant impacts from the ice and/or snow that is expected to develop in this setup.

Locations in the ice storm warnings have the highest potential to see ice accumulations that are heavy enough to cause tree damage and power outages. This includes Little Rock, Arkansas; Jonesboro, Arkansas; Paducah, Kentucky; and Lexington, Kentucky.

Forecast Timing

Wednesday-Wednesday Night

Freezing rain and sleet will develop on Wednesday from northern Texas and southern and eastern Oklahoma eastward into the Ozarks and lower Ohio Valley. A strip of light snowfall may spread from parts of northern Missouri to the central Appalachians.

Wednesday night, freezing rain and sleet will continue to impact areas from northern Texas and southeastern Oklahoma eastward through northern and central parts of Arkansas, western Tennessee and Kentucky. Snowfall will spread as far east as the mid-Atlantic, including the Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia metro areas.

Scattered showers and thunderstorms could dampen the Deep South.

Wednesday Night’s Forecast


A narrow zone of freezing rain and sleet will continue Thursday from north-central Texas eastward to parts of Arkansas, western Tennessee, Kentucky, southern West Virginia and central Virginia. Some freezing rain may eventually develop as far south as northern North Carolina on Thursday night.

Snow might stretch from the Ohio Valley to the mid-Atlantic states, including Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia.

Widespread rain and some thunderstorms are possible in a broad area of the South.

A little snow, sleet or freezing rain could linger in parts of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and the Delmarva Peninsula early Friday.

Thursday’s Forecast

How Much Ice and Snow?

Areas from northern Texas to Virginia have a chance of picking up at least enough ice to make untreated roads, particularly bridges and overpasses, slippery. This could include Dallas-Forth Worth; Little Rock, Arkansas; Memphis, Tennessee, Nashville, Tennessee; and Lexington, Kentucky.

More damaging ice accumulations are possible from parts of southeast Oklahoma into northern and central Arkansas, southeast Missouri, northwest Tennessee, Kentucky and southern West Virginia.

In these areas, the weight of heavier ice accumulations could snap tree limbs or down trees, and produce more widespread power outages, generally in the darkest contour in the map below.

Probability of 0.10″ or Greater Ice Accumulation


Snowfall accumulations will be on the light side for the majority of the Midwest.

Parts of the mid-Atlantic could see 2 to 5 inches of snowfall, including parts of the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore metro areas. Lighter amounts are expected farther north toward Philadelphia and the southern suburbs of the New York City metro area in New Jersey. The higher elevations of the central Appalachians will see 5 inches or more of snowfall.

Some of this snow from the Ohio Valley to Virginia may fall after a period of freezing rain and sleet, potentially making travel very hazardous.

Check back to weather.com for updates and potential changes to this forecast.

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