A huge storm is forecast to bring a wild weekend of weather to much of the central and eastern U.S., meteorologists warned. This includes rain, snow, wind and a chance of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.
"From gusty winds to dangerous thunderstorms and even snow, a massive storm will affect 180 million people in the eastern half of the United States this weekend," said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.
The storm and its trailing cold front also will put an abrupt end to the unusual warmth that sent temperatures soaring to near-record levels across the central U.S. on Wednesday and Thursday.
Where will it snow?
According to Sosnowski, a narrow band of snow is likely Saturday from near the quad-state zone of Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa to central and northern Michigan.
Later in the weekend, the highest chance of accumulating snow will be in parts of the Appalachians and the interior Northeast, as cold air rushes in behind a strong cold front Sunday afternoon into Sunday night, AccuWeather meteorologist La Troy Thornton said.
Wind, rain for many
For most of the eastern half of the nation, heavy rain and strong winds will be the primary threats from the storm.
Heavy rain, accompanied by strong winds and thunder and lightning in some cases, will douse the eastern third of the nation. The storm is expected to shift north Saturday night from northern Florida up to Ohio, across western Pennsylvania and into New York on Sunday, AccuWeather said.
As the cold front moves East, the National Weather Service warned up to 3 inches of rain is possible in some areas, which could lead to flash flooding.
AccuWeather meteorologist Grady Gilman said "heavy rainfall will accompany the frontal passage and can cause flooding on streets and highways along with reduced visibility. Significant ground and air travel delays are likely as the heavy rain, strong winds and thunderstorms come together in the East from Sunday to Sunday night."
Wind will also be a major weather story, especially on Sunday. Gusts of up to 60 mph are possible along the Interstate 95 corridor on Sunday, which could lead to tree damage and scattered power outages. Winds could roar to as much as 75 mph along the Long Island and southern New England coasts, which is at hurricane-force levels.
Severe storms to rattle South
While some severe storms and tornadoes are possible Friday in the Deep South, the bigger threat appears to be Saturday, forecasters warned: "Scattered severe thunderstorms will be possible from east Texas across the Lower Mississippi Valley, mainly on Saturday afternoon into the early evening," the Storm Prediction Center said.
"From Shreveport, Louisiana, to Louisville, Kentucky, and areas in between, damaging winds, hail and even a tornado or two could all unfold on Saturday," said AccuWeather meteorologist Brandon Buckingham.
Warmth, then cold
A southward dip in the jet stream will usher in colder air from Canada across the Plains and Midwest, causing temperatures to drop 15-20 degrees from what was seen Thursday and Friday, AccuWeather said.
Multiple cities along the I-95 corridor including Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York City will have temperatures peak on Sunday with highs in the 60s, which is around 15 degrees above the historical average.
The dip in the jet stream will reach the East early next week, bringing temperatures back down near historical averages for December.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Storm in weekend forecast to unleash rain, wind, snow in US