More Than 20 Million People in the Path of Major Winter Storm Expected to Bring Snow, Ice, and Flooding to U.S. South

A major storm is threatening an earlier-than-usual wintry stew of snow, ice and flooding across parts of the Southern United States over the next few days.

More than 20 million people are under winter storm watches and warnings from New Mexico to North Carolina, where authorities have declared a statewide emergency as some areas could get over a foot of snow.

“Snow may be beautiful but it can also be treacherous and I urge North Carolinians to take this storm seriously and get ready for it now,” Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement.

Charlotte could see up to half a foot of snow.

“Six inches will shut that city down,” CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar said. “It’s very much like any other Southern city … where they don’t have the resources that a lot of other cities have. They have few salt trucks, few snowplows. It takes them longer to clean something like that up.”

As this multifaceted storm develops, here is what meteorologists are expecting, where and when:

Eastern Tennessee, Georgia and the Carolinas
Timing: Saturday morning through Monday morning
Precipitation creeps in early Saturday, with rain in Georgia and some light, wintry precipitation in the mountains. It picks up late Saturday when blizzard conditions are possible in the higher Appalachians, with larger accumulations Sunday into early Monday morning across the zone. The storm probably will move out to sea Monday, but it also could turn and climb up the East Coast, bringing heavy snow to major metro areas.

The culprit is a moisture-heavy storm that brought downpours and flash flooding along the southern edge of Texas and snow and ice in the north, including more than 9 inches of snow in Lubbock. As that moisture moves eastward, it is colliding with a high pressure system over the Ohio Valley that is funneling cold air into the region.

“It’s kind of a big deal,” Chinchar said. “It’s December. This is not the time of year that they would typically get this stuff.”

Impact: Record snow, blizzard conditions, wintry mix and heavy rain
Significant snow is expected — but not certain — across the mountains of northeast Georgia and the Carolinas.

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SOURCE: CNN, Nicole Chavez and Derek Van Dam