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Tale of two storms


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Tale of two storms East and West

7:46 P.M. ET 1/29/2005


J. Wilson, Meteorologist, The Weather Channel



The cold air is slowly moderating from the Midwest to the Southeast to New England. Yet enough cold air remains along with the moisture streaming northward from the Gulf of Mexico to continue the snow from Illinois to Ohio and the snow, sleet and freezing rain from parts of the southern Mid-Atlantic to north Georgia and the upstate and central portions of South Carolina.


Overnight and early morning, freezing rain fell across eastern Kentucky, southwest West Virginia, eastern Tennessee, eastern Alabama and both northern and central Georgia. This resulted in ice-covered ramps, overpasses, and bridges. Tree limbs and power lines were coated with anywhere from a tenth to over a half inch of ice and many people found their car doors iced-shut. Temperatures have now risen above freezing in all of this area except for north Georgia ending the threat of additional ice accumulation. During the morning, the heavier bursts of precipitation fell in the form of sleet rather than freezing rain across northern and central Georgia. The sleet accumulated up to one inch around Atlanta and up to 2 inches in Forsyth in Monroe County. Periods of freezing rain will continue over northern Georgia (minus the far western portion and cities like Rome where temperatures are above 32 degrees) into the first part of tonight. As a result, the ice has grown much thicker across Georgia ranging from a quarter of an inch in many locations to three-quarters of an inch in Atlanta to one inch in Griffin in Spalding County and Cedartown in Polk County to one and a half inches in Lexington in Oglethorpe County. Trees and power lines are coming down. The freezing rain will become lighter and lighter before ending.


Freezing rain and sleet spread across South Carolina initially right to the coastal towns and cities. Since noon Saturday, the coast and areas south of Columbia have risen above freezing. Earlier on Saturyda some parts of northwest South Carolina saw an inch or so of sleet and snow accumulation. The northwest part of South Carolina will continue to see the build up of ice into very early Sunday before the rain ends. As you climb into the foothills and the mountains, an initial heavy snow/sleet combination over western North Carolina brought near an inch of accumulation to the Charlotte area, 1 inch to Winston-Salem and as much as 4 to 8 inches to the Smoky Mountains. From Asheville to Greensboro, freezing rain and sleet is falling now and is advancing eastward into Raleigh. As the upper-level system scooting across the Ohio Valley moves across overnight, the Smoky Mountains will see one more burst of snow before the precipitation ends over the western Carolinas. Snow and some mixed precipitation are pushing into the mountains of West Virginia and western Virginia.


Precipitation will continue across the Carolinas overnight and across only eastern North Carolina on Sunday with significant additional sleet and icing over interior sections coming to an end Sunday morning. Sunday, low pressure will develop around Cape Hatteras, N.C. Snow could become heavy at times over western Virginia and spread eastward across northern Virginia, southern Maryland and southern Delaware. Western Virginia and the mountains of West Virginia could pick up between 3 and 6 inches. Other areas could see between 1 and 3 inches. From central Virginia to the Delmarva Peninsula, sleet and freezing rain will develop Sunday. Temperatures will come above freezing over all of the interior Southeast Sunday. With the precipitation ended and moderating temperatures, rapid melting will remove the remaining ice and sleet from roads, bridges, trees and power lines across eastern Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina and central North Carolina. The snow and sleet over western North Carolina may hang around a while longer.


In the West a new powerful storm brought 12 to 15 inches of snow to the Sierra of California and showery conditions in Los Angeles and San Diego on Friday. This storm has energized and moved into Arizona and southern Utah this afternoon with 6 to 12 inches of fresh snow for the White Mountains of Arizona and southwestern mountains of Utah. Impressive bursts of snow have come from thundersnow in Prescott and Flagstaff this afternoon. Also, at the lower evelvations around Phoenix there has been thundertorms with gusty winds and even some large hail reported in the northwest part of the city. This shows just how strong the energy aloft is with this system. Watch for this powerful storm to move through the 4 corner states on Sunday. It will continue to bring excessive snow amounts of 6 to 12 inches with locally higher amounts in the ski resort areas of New Mexico and southern Colorado and eventually rainy conditions for Texas to the Gulf Coast on Monday into Tuesday.

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