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5 Things to Know About Winter Storm Helena
Published: January 6, 2017
Winter Storm Helena's final phase will unfold Friday into Saturday across the South, where snow and ice will likely bring travel to a standstill.
The storm has already brought snow to the West and Midwest the last few days.
Here are five things to know about Helena right now.
1. Cold Temperatures Will Continue After Helena and May Lead to Lasting Travel Woes
Forecast AM Low Temperatures
Travel problems from Helena could last into Sunday or perhaps even Monday in areas in the Southeast that receive snow from Helena.
That's because cold temperatures will continue in the wake of Helena, allowing roadways to stay icy if they're treated or plowed. Daytime highs may struggle to reach the freezing mark (32 degrees) in some areas through Monday, including Charlotte and Raleigh, North Carolina. Low temperatures will tumble into the 20s, teens and even single digits in some areas.
Southeast Virginia into the Carolinas and possibly northeast Georgia could have icy roadways, particularly secondary roads, that linger as a result.
(INTERACTIVE: Winter Storm Helena Tracker)
2. It's Been a While Since the Last Time This Happened in the South
Since significant snowstorms are relatively infrequent in the South, a couple years can pass by without a substantial event.
The last time Raleigh-Durham and Norfolk saw a 6-inch or greater snowfall was nearly two years ago, Feb. 24-26, 2015. Helena has a chance to produce 6 inches in both those locations.
Charlotte last saw a 3-inch or greater snow event about a year ago when a total of 3.3 inches fell Jan. 22-23, 2016. The last 6-inch or greater snowfall in the Queen City was Feb. 11-13, 2014, when 8.4 inches piled up.
Atlanta has officially gone nearly three years without a snow event of 1 inch or greater. That last occurred Feb. 12-13, 2014, when 2 inches accumulated at the official Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport reporting site south of the city.
3. Helena Will Bring Some Ice As Well
Winter Storm Helena will also have an icy side on the southern periphery of its snow swath. It is not expected to produce ice amounts that reach the level of producing widespread power outages and tree damage, however.
In general, light freezing accumulations are possible in a swath from central Louisiana into southern parts of Mississippi, Alabama and west-central Georgia to eastern South Carolina and eastern North Carolina. In those areas, the ice could accumulate on trees and other surfaces, and may lead to slick travel conditions.
(MORE: Why Freezing Rain is the Worst)
4. More Than Two Dozen States Will Have Been Impacted by Helena
Helena began to affect the U.S. Tuesday in California and Oregon.
By the time it's all said and done later this weekend, the storm will have brought at least minor snow or ice impacts to more than two dozen states from coast-to-coast.
The West has had the heaviest snow amounts, while a swath from the central Plains to the Ohio Valley has seen mainly light snow, so far. Parts of the mid-Atlantic and the aforementioned South are also in line for snow.
5. Helena Brought Feet of Snow to the West
Helena's heaviest snow has fallen in the West where parts of California's Sierra Nevada needed a yardstick to measure totals.
Including snow that fell before Helena's arrival, Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows ski resort has received 84 inches, or 7 feet, of snow since Sunday morning. More than 4 feet of that total is estimated to have fallen in association with Helena.
Snowfall totals from Helena have also reached or exceeded 2 feet in at least one location in parts of Colorado, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming.
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