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Finally, there's warm weather ahead for much of the U.S. But more cold first

Girls walk through the Capitol Hill neighborhood dragging sleds on Friday as school was cancelled due to snow in Washington, D.C.
Jacquelyn Martin
/
AP
Girls walk through the Capitol Hill neighborhood dragging sleds on Friday as school was cancelled due to snow in Washington, D.C.

Updated January 20, 2024 at 7:30 PM ET

After weeks of bitter cold and heavy snow, it may finally get warmer across the eastern half of the U.S., from Kansas to Connecticut, starting this coming week.

The latest burst of Arctic air from Canada will mostly be in the East Coast by Monday. Without another immediate cold front from Canada, temperatures will likely stay above freezing for several days while also bringing some intense rain, forecasters say.

In Atlanta, the high is expected to near 68 degrees Fahrenheit on Thursday. In Louisville, temperatures are forecast to climb to 58 degrees the same day. Further north, Washington, D.C., is predicted to peak at 57 degrees on Saturday.

Until then, extreme cold weather is forecast to dominate the eastern two-thirds of the country over the weekend, according to the National Weather Service. It won't be as chilly as the past week, but still expansive, reaching as far south as Missouri.

The prolonged cold has led to a series of other concerns.

In Cleveland, there was a scramble to keep warm 250 chronically unhoused people, Ideastream Public Media reported on Friday. In Rochester, N.Y., a commercial jet slid off a taxiway after landing due to snowy conditions on Thursday, according to WXXINews. And in Tennessee, the state health department confirmed at least 17 deaths related to the winter storm earlier this past week, The Tennesseanreported.

Snow and strong winds are still a threat along the East, especially in West Virginia

The cold front was forecast to bring light to moderate snowfall Saturday across multiple states, from West Virginia to Pennsylvania.

In upstate New York, cities including Rochester, Syracuse and Oswego are expected to accumulate 2 to 6 inches of snow. A winter weather advisory is in effect in those areas until Sunday morning.

Meanwhile, wind chills are the main concern in parts of the eastern Catskills in New York as well as the Berkshires in western Massachusetts, with the coldest temperatures occurring Saturday night into early Sunday morning.

In western Pennsylvania, a combination of snow showers and gusty winds were forecast to produce dangerous driving conditions throughout Saturday in Cambria, Somerset and Warren counties.

Blizzard-like conditions were expected in eastern pockets of West Virginia and the westernmost portion of Maryland, Garrett County. The region was expected to only accumulate 1 to 3 inches of snow on Saturday, but with wind gusts as high as 45 mph. Visibility in those areas may be limited to a quarter-mile, the NWS warned. Wind chills are also forecast to get dangerously cold, enough for frostbite to develop on exposed skin within 30 minutes.

Wind chill advisory issued in states across the Central Time zone

Bitterly low temperatures will consume states in the Midwest this weekend, including Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan.

Wind chills will get as low as minus 30 degrees in central Iowa. The state's capital, Des Moines, recorded 27 inches of snow from Jan. 8-18, amid the Iowa caucuses.

This month so far qualifies for the fifth snowiest month in the city's history. There is a slight chance of more snow Monday night, but generally the snow should begin to melt next week, according to the NWS.

On Saturday, snow continued to pile up in Michigan, specifically in Leelanau, Benzie, and Manistee counties. Between 3 and 7 inches were expected to accumulate. The NWS said snow was falling at 1 or more inches per hour.

In Chicago, it will begin to slightly warm up Sunday but a storm system will bring freezing rain on Monday. There is a chance of rain in the windy city through Friday.

Dangerous freezing conditions threaten the South

Along the Gulf Coast, most of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida panhandle are at risk of hard-freeze conditions, or when temperatures stay below freezing for at least a few hours, jeopardizing crops and outdoor water pipes.

On Saturday night, temperatures are falling to single digits across Tennessee. It will get warmer in the coming week, with highs up to the 60s in Nashville by Thursday. But the warmer weather will be coupled with bouts of rain, the NWS said.

Meanwhile, most of Arkansas, including Little Rock, is forecastto receive freezing rain on Monday. More than a quarter inch of ice is expected to accumulate northwest of the city of Russellville.

Intense rainstorms underway in California

As frigid temperatures consume the eastern half of the U.S., the West Coast is being overwhelmed by rainstorms this weekend. Forecasters say it will last until Monday night.

In northern California, a flood warning has been issued in the city of Eureka until Saturday night. Up to 4 inches of rain is forecast to accumulate there, potentially causing flooded roadways and mudslides. Meanwhile, in Sacramento and the Bay Area, the heaviest downpour will unfold Sunday.

The plume of moisture, which is causing the storm, will slide into southern California on Monday and produce similar episodes of excessive rainfall. The NWS warned that the region is at risk of flash flooding.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Juliana Kim
Juliana Kim is a weekend reporter for Digital News, where she adds context to the news of the day and brings her enterprise skills to NPR's signature journalism.