The combination of heavy rain and existing melting snow from last week’s storm could lead to flooding from the mid-Atlantic to New England.
New York City, for example, will be under a high wind warning and a flood watch from Thursday night into Friday morning, with winds forecast to be 20-30 mph and gusts up to 60 mph.
“Anyone dreaming of a white Christmas will have to settle for a windy and soggy holiday,” New York City Emergency Management Commissioner Deanne Criswell said. “However, the hazards are real, and we want every New Yorker to prepare for the potentially damaging winds and heavy rain.”
On Wednesday night, blizzard warnings were in place across much of the Upper Midwest, with winds reported over 65 mph in parts of the Dakotas, making travel impossible in some areas.
Winter storm warnings were also in effect for Minnesota’s Twin Cities, with 6-8 inches of snow expected and near white-out conditions.
“Winds could gust as high as 60 mph, causing significantly reduced visibilities in blowing snow,” according to the National Weather Service.
A spokesman for Northwestern, West Central and Central Minnesota State Patrol said in a tweet that troopers have responded to hundreds of crashes, spun-out and stalled vehicles, as well as 11 jackknifed semitrucks, just between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Wednesday.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz authorized the state’s National Guard to provide emergency relief services for motorists who are stranded in the winter storm, his office said.
Rain expected up and down East Coast
On Christmas Eve, the storm will track east and produce a variety of weather and bring falling temperatures to much of the Midwest. Very strong winds will also accompany the storm, with wind warnings and advisories all the way from the Gulf Coast to the US-Canada border.
As the storm moves east, it will be mainly a rainmaker. Christmas Eve will be wet for millions from Upstate New York to the Florida Panhandle. There could even be some severe storms.
“This storm setup could easily allow for dangerous winds and even a few brief isolated tornadoes,” CNN meteorologist Gene Norman said. “Especially at risk on Christmas Eve are eastern sections of North and South Carolina, southern Georgia and Alabama, and parts of the Florida Panhandle.”
From the Ohio Valley down to the Tennessee Valley, rain will switch to snow Thursday afternoon. Much of West Virginia and Eastern Ohio could see 3-5 inches of snow, with higher elevations seeing even more.
Heavy rain following snow can also cause rapid melting and flooding. The National Weather Service in Binghamton, New York, warned residents of the risk.
“Where recent heavy snow fell, this could add weight to old snowpack on roofs/structures resulting in collapsed structures,” the agency said.
The storm will clear out for most by morning, leaving a cold and windy Christmas across the South, but parts of the northeast will be rather warm.
CNN’s Taylor Ward, Rob Frehse, Raja Razek and Dave Hennen contributed to this report.