Big coast-to-coast storm to bring powerful punch

A weather system that’s gaining strength Wednesday in California will become a powerful six-day, coast-to-coast storm – one that’s forecast to roar all the way from the Southwest to the mid-Atlantic.

Along its 2,500-mile journey, the storm will affect tens of millions of people as it unleashes heavy snow and ice, flooding rains and potentially a tornado or two, the National Weather Service warned.

At least a dozen states will see snow and more than 20 states will see rain from the powerhouse storm. Widespread air and road travel headaches and significant power outages are likely.

Before the storm makes its cross-country rampage, cold weather will continue to be the main story for much of the nation. Early Wednesday morning, almost 80 percent of the Lower 48 states shivered with freezing or below-freezing temperatures, according to weather.us meteorologist Ryan Maue.

Also on Wednesday, a much weaker storm was forecast to spread light snow across the Appalachians and mid-Atlantic throughout the day.

As much as 3 inches of snow was possible in southern New Jersey from the weak storm, where officials planned ahead to avoid a repeat of the snowstorm that belted the New York City metro area on Nov. 15, leading to a chaotic and hellish commute home for thousands.

Time lapse footage shows a car navigating through snowy streets following a post-Thanksgiving winter storm that brought whiteout conditions to parts of Illinois.

In Washington, D.C., former President George H.W. Bush’s state funeral was held Wednesday under mostly cloudy skies. Later Wednesday, snow flurries and snow showers remained possible, according to The Washington Post.

Meanwhile, the powerhouse storm was already starting to fire up in Southern California, where communities were still recovering from catastrophic wildfires that swept across the state, killing dozens and destroying thousands of structures. Heavy rainfall is expected Wednesday along with the possibility of flash flooding, according to the weather service.

After spreading some rain and snow across the Southwest on Thursday, the storm will intensify Friday as it wallops portions of northern Texas and Oklahoma with heavy snow and freezing rain. Up to a foot of snow is possible in cities such as Amarillo, Texas.

Ice accumulations in some areas may be heavy enough for tree damage and power outages, the Weather Channel warned.

In southern Texas, heavy rain and thunderstorms could lead to dangerous flash flooding. Some of the storms may become strong enough to produce damaging wind gusts and isolated tornadoes, AccuWeather said.

On Saturday, portions of Arkansas and Missouri will see the threat of ice. A huge chunk of the South – all the way from Texas to the Carolinas – will see a soaking rain and a chance for flooding on Saturday.

By Sunday and Monday, the long-lived storm will move into the Appalachians, the mid-Atlantic states and potentially the Northeast. Some of the heaviest snow is forecast for mountainous areas of North Carolina, West Virginia and Virginia, where some forecasts predict 1 to 3 feet of snow.

The storm could have some impact on the big cities of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, but its exact track and potential snowfall amounts cannot be predicted yet.

People tired of shivering could get a break next week, as warmer temperatures are expected to move in, according to Weather.com, especially in the East.