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Winter storm to spread icy weather from Midwest to Northeast

By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather, Accuweather.com
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Pedestrians walk through Times Square during a snow storm in New York City on Friday. A winter weather advisory is in effect for parts of the Tri-State area including NYC. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/0bd56c8a4e3a84b259be6349b95d322f/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Pedestrians walk through Times Square during a snow storm in New York City on Friday. A winter weather advisory is in effect for parts of the Tri-State area including NYC. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

A winter storm will impact parts of the Great Lakes and interior parts of the Northeast this weekend, but this time precipitation is likely to come in the form of dangerous freezing rain and sleet that could lead to icy travel conditions, AccuWeather meteorologists caution.

Ahead of the new storm expected to sweep across the region, cold air will be entrenched at the surface as warm air will stream in several thousand feet above the ground, according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Matt Benz. Roads and sidewalks may remain below freezing as rain falls for a time before temperatures at the ground level climb a bit.

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The icy conditions will spread over the Great Lakes on Saturday and the interior Northeast from Saturday night to Sunday.

Across areas farther north, the air will be cold enough for a period of snow or snow showers to occur in cities such as Minneapolis; Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.; Burlington, Vt.; and Caribou, Maine as the system moves along.

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"There will likely be a mixed bag of precipitation farther south. Sleet and freezing rain will change to rain for cities such as Chicago on Saturday and the suburbs around Detroit Saturday night," Benz said.

As the storm shifts eastward, a period of ice will precede rain across interior parts of the Northeast later this weekend, threatening to cause dicey travel in places such as State College, Harrisburg and Scranton, Penn.; Syracuse and Albany, N.Y.; Worcester, Mass.; and Manchester, N.H.

"The greatest risk of several hours of icy travel will be from Saturday night to early Sunday in the central Appalachians and early Sunday over interior New England," AccuWeather senior meteorologist Brett Anderson said.

Some freezing rain may even fall during the first few hours of precipitation in the suburbs located to the north and east of Pittsburgh and north and west of Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City and Boston, leading to icy spots on roads and sidewalks.

Brief and minor icing events can still lead to disaster on the roadways as was witnessed Wednesday morning across parts of southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey to southeastern New York state and Connecticut. Icy roads were blamed for hundreds of accidents and scary scenes of vehicles sliding and spinning out of control.

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"Motorists and pedestrians should keep in mind that even if the temperature gets just above freezing, the ground can remain frozen due to a recent stretch of cold weather," Benz said, adding that untreated surfaces remain icy for a time even after rain ends.

Arctic air will sweep southeastward from central Canada later this weekend to early next week from the Midwest to the Northeast. The air is not likely to be any colder than that which has swept across the northern tier of the Midwest thus far this season, but this batch of air will likely be the coldest of the season so far across areas farther to the south and east around the Great Lakes, Ohio Valley, Appalachians and the Northeast.

January to February is typically the coldest time of the year for much of the Midwest and Northeast, and record-challenging warmth from this past December can make seasonable conditions seem especially harsh. Adding to that, temperatures are predicted to plunge 15-25 degrees below average for a couple of days. Highs typically range from the lower 20s in Minneapolis and Caribou to the upper 40s in Nashville and Richmond, Va. The wind and other conditions can result in AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures 10-20 degrees lower than actual temperatures at times during the Arctic outbreak.

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Detroit has not yet experienced a day with a high temperature as low as the teens this season, but that could happen on Monday and Tuesday. The high is forecast to reach within a few degrees of 20 both days.

Temperatures are forecast to plunge into the teens during Sunday afternoon around Chicago, dip well down into the single digits Sunday night and struggle to reach the mid-teens on Monday. The readings Sunday night and Monday would represent season-low benchmarks so far.

As the cold air charges into the Northeast, temperatures may only reach the lower 20s -- or perhaps a few degrees lower -- for a high in New York City on Tuesday. That same day, a high in the lower teens is projected 140 miles farther to the north along the Hudson River in Albany.

Nighttime temperatures could dip into the teens for the first time this season in Washington, D.C., early next week.

The new blast of Arctic air will bring a renewed episode of lake-effect snow from late this weekend to early next week. This time it appears that the lakes Erie and Ontario snow belts south of Buffalo and Watertown, N.Y., will be the main focus.

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