A major winter storm dumped snow over parts of North Dakota early Friday and was expected to bring snow and ice south on Saturday before turning toward the East Coast, where rain and snow are likely Sunday or Monday, meteorologists said. .
Details about which East Coast cities will see snow and how much remain unclear. But some airports and transportation departments were already preparing for potential travel problems.
David Roth, the National Weather Service’s chief meteorologist, said Thursday night that forecasters expect the forecast to evolve.
“There is more uncertainty than usual,” Mr. Roth said. “When we deal with the difference between rain and sleet and sleet and snow, small changes make a big difference.”
By early Friday, snow had fallen across parts of central and eastern North Dakota, According to the Bismarck Weather Service. The condition of the roads is already deteriorating rapidly, they said. Several cities were under a winter storm warning through Friday, meteorologists said, and parts of that state could see patches of heavy snow totaling more than eight inches.
“This snow will combine with high winds to produce slippery snow-covered roads and significantly reduce visibility,” the weather service said. Twitter. “Travel can get risky at times.”
The storm is expected to move southeast on Friday toward Iowa, with many cities experiencing a winter storm warning on Friday and even as early as Saturday. Six to 10 inches of snow is likely in northern and central Iowa, according to the Weather Service.
Southwest Airlines warned Thursday that travelers transiting through or from Des Moines International Airport may see flight delays, diversions or cancellations. Other cities under the airline’s travel advisory include St. Louis, Kansas City, Mauritania, Omaha, and Neb. American Airlines and Delta have made similar weather announcements.
The storm could bring winter weather to parts of western Kentucky and southeastern Missouri by Friday night, with snowfall potential of up to four inches, according to the Weather Service’s office in Paducah, Kentucky.
On Saturday, the storm system is expected to continue moving southeast toward North Carolina, northeast Georgia, and western North Carolina. Dozens of cities in the region will experience a winter storm from Saturday evening through Monday morning. Mixed precipitation was possible in the area, the weather service said, with the potential for up to 10 inches of snow, along with possible ice accumulations.
Some of the ice buildup in northern Georgia could be significant, Dave Nadler, a meteorologist with the Office of Weather Services in Peachtree, Georgia, said at a briefing.
“We are looking at the possibility of a major winter storm,” Mr. Nadler said. “The look of that and the confidence in him started to grow.”
Mr. Roth said the storm system would then move northeast toward the east coast. Winter weather will be possible in many cities, including Washington, Philadelphia, and New York, but details on how much or what kind of precipitation has been wasn’t clear.
“We’ll be in a transition zone where you can start out as snow, turn into rain, and come back into snow,” said Mr. Roth.
The uncertainty in the outlook could be worrisome for those who live along Interstate 95 in Virginia, after a snowstorm early this month left hundreds of drivers stranded in their cars for more than 24 hours.
Despite uncertainty in forecasts along the I-95 corridor and to the east, the highest impacts and heaviest snow are expected in the west of the area, according to the weather service.
Still, the Virginia Department of Transportation took no chances, and on Thursday its crews began spraying parts of I-95 with a solution of salt and brine, which helps prevent ice from sticking to roads.
“On Sunday, drivers should avoid non-essential travel with a chance of dangerous weather and road conditions during or even after a storm,” the department said in a statement. “Even with pretreatment, icy conditions to the slick remain possible.”
Finally, by late Sunday through Monday, the system could bring snow to New York. Parts of the state’s north can record up to six inches of snow or more, but New York City likely won’t record significant amounts of snowfall, weather service He said.