Winter Storm Spreads Snow and Potentially Damaging Ice Into the East Through Friday

Published in 18 February, 2021

At a Glance

  • A winter storm is tracking through the East to close out the week.

  • Snow and ice from the storm will disrupt travel.

  • Ice has damaged trees and power lines in Virginia.

Winter Storm Viola will create travel headaches in the East as it spreads a mess of snow, sleet and freezing rain across the region into Friday. The storm has also brought ice heavy enough to damage trees and knock out power in parts of Virginia and North Carolina.

Snow and ice from this storm extend from the Northeast into parts of Virginia and northern North Carolina right now. A disturbance associated with Viola is also producing accumulating snow in Texas, from around San Antonio and Austin to Del Rio on the Mexico border.

Ice has accumulated a quarter-inch or more thick in portions of southern Virginia and northern North Carolina. There have been reports of downed trees and power lines in southwest Virginia.

Snow in the Northeast has been heaviest so far in parts of southeast Pennsylvania, including from the northwest suburbs of Philadelphia to near Trenton, New Jersey. Several locations have picked up 6 inches or more snowfall in this area.

New York City’s Central Park had picked up 3.2 inches of snow as of 1 p.m. EST. That brings the February total in New York City up to 24.4 inches, making it the ninth snowiest Feburary on record there since 1869.

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Current Radar

Winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories have been issued by the National Weather Service from portions of southern New England to the mid-Atlantic and mid-South. Additional winter storm warnings and advisories are in effect in central and southwest Texas.

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Winter Weather Alerts

(From the National Weather Service.)

Here’s an overview of the storm’s forecast timing and how much more snow and ice you can expect.

Forecast Timing

Through Thursday Night

This storm’s first wave of snow, sleet and freezing rain during the daytime in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic should be the heaviest for those regions.

A second wave of wintry weather will allow lighter snowfall to persist in much of the Northeast on Thursday night. Lighter freezing rain and sleet could also persist from around Baltimore and Washington, D.C. to southern Virginia and northern North Carolina.

Pockets of snow, sleet and freezing rain will persist from southwest and central Texas into the lower Mississippi and Tennessee valleys during the day. All of this should come to an end by this evening.

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Thursday’s Forecast

Friday

The storm will begin to exit the Northeast on Friday, but snow might linger in areas from New England to the eastern mid-Atlantic.

Some additional icing might affect south-central Virginia and north-central North Carolina.

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Friday’s Foreccast

How Much More Snow and Ice?

The Northeast Interstate 95 corridor from New York City to Philadelphia could see 5 inches or more of snowfall through Friday.

Most areas in southern New England will see 3 to 5 inches of snow, but some heavier totals over 5 inches are possible in southeastern parts of the region.

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Additional Snowfall Forecast

(The snow shown in the map above is in addition to any snow that has already fallen from this storm.)

Freezing rain could be heavy enough to damage trees and knock out power in parts of Virginia and northern North Carolina on Thursday. Areas shaded in darker purple on the map below have the highest chance of seeing damaging ice accumulations.

At least some ice accumulation is possible up the Interstate 95 corridor including Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia.

All of these locations could have enough ice to slicken untreated roads and make travel dangerous.

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Probability of 0.10″ or Greater Ice Accumulation

(NOAA)

Storm Recap

Viola impacted the South late Tuesday through Wednesday night.

Oklahoma City picked up about 4 inches of snow, Tulsa measured 5 inches and Dallas-Ft. Worth picked up 1 inch of snow.

Parts of Texas and Louisiana picked up one-quarter to one-half inch of ice accumulation.

This ice accumulation on top of snow and ice from Winter Storm Uri earlier this week lead to a number of structure collapses from Texas to Mississippi, including carports, barns, even the roof of some homes, according to the National Weather Service.

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One tenth to one quarter inch of ice accumulation was also observed on the north side of the Houston metro and also in San Antonio. Light freezing rain was reported as far south as Laredo, Kingsville and Corpus Christi, Texas.

Meanwhile, parts of Oklahoma, northern Texas and Arkansas picked up over 6 more inches of snow from Viola Wednesday.

One location near the Red River in southern Oklahoma Wednesday reported 16 to 18 inches of snow on the ground from both winter storms, with snow “covering bumpers“, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

The storm brought portions of southern Arkansas 10 to 14 inches of snowfall.

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Little Rock picked up another 11.8 inches of snow from Viola on Wednesday. This is the city’s second-heaviest calendar day snowfall on record, only topped by a storm that produced 12 inches in one day on March 6, 1875.

It was also the second time in three days Little Rock picked up at least 6 inches of snow in a day. In records dating to 1875, they never previously had two such heavy snow days in the same winter, much less within 3 days.

Memphis, Tennessee, saw 7.2 inches of snow from Viola on Wednesday.

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