RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — If you are traveling up and down the East Coast today, you can expect some big-time problems into the afternoon and evening.
The first is an area of rain that is spreading from South Carolina into the Mid-Atlantic and will reach the northeast by later this evening and tonight. That is going to slow down travel by car on many of the interstates that run from Florida all the way up into New England. Some of the areas — especially in western Virginia, the mountains of Maryland and the mountains of Pennsylvania — will receive freezing rain and sleet that will highly impact travel by car in those areas. Closer to the coast, the precipitation will mainly be rain.
The heavy rainfall combined with traffic on the interstates could really bring things to a crawl.
Traveling by car up and down the East Coast on Friday is going to be a little bit tricky, as that arctic front will be moving across Interstate 81 and Interstate 95 in the morning. This will cause temperatures to fall and the roadways, which will be wet from today’s rain, could develop black ice. Once the cold air is firmly in place, the Department of Transportation for many of the states from the Mid-Atlantic northward will be able to get out and spread salt and sand to make roadways safe from black ice.
Travel on Interstates 81 and 95 on Saturday should be okay along the East Coast. However, it is going to be very cold and windy, so make sure you are bundled up when you make any stops. The wind chills could range from the teens into the single digits or even colder as you head up into New England.
If you are traveling by air, travel might get worse as we go through this afternoon, Friday and Saturday. The reason for that is the Arctic front which is now pushing into the Midwest. This Arctic front will not only bring a drop in temperatures, but it is going to create significant winds that will make it very difficult for air travel across portions of the Midwest and Ohio Valley. It will also create blizzard-like conditions in many areas in the upper Midwest through the Plains States.
One major concern for air travel today is that travel through Chicago O’Hare, Minneapolis St. Paul or even Detroit, will become heavily impacted by the weather. There could even be ground stoppage at some of those airports, which would then create a major ripple effect across the nation and slow down air travel just about everywhere.
Tomorrow that Arctic front will push to the east and affect all areas along the East Coast, which is going to make for some nasty travel from Atlanta all the way through New England. As temperatures drop, planes will have to be de-iced before takeoff, which will slow down departures for many airlines. Extreme winds that we are expecting for airports like Richmond, Dulles, Reagan, Baltimore, Philadelphia, JFK, LaGuardia and Boston will also create major slowdown and possible ground stoppages.
The weather will slowly get a little bit better on Saturday, but the winds will still be a problem. This will especially be true in the Ohio valley and New England, where winds could still be 20 to 40 miles per hour so even as planes begin to get back on schedule the air travel across those areas will be extremely bumpy.