Winter Storm Threatens Disruption Across Wide Stretch of the U.S.

A powerful winter storm crept across the upper Midwest on Friday, tracking on a circuitous path that forecasters said could create a cascade of power outages, hazardous travel conditions and deepening supply-chain problems across a vast section of the country extending from the South to the East Coast.

The sprawling weather system prompted winter storm warnings and watches from North Dakota down to northern Mississippi and across to Raleigh, N.C., and areas of western New York.

But some ambiguity remained over how much snow, ice and rain the storm could bring in the coming days, especially in the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic, where another storm caught transportation officials off guard and stranded hundreds of drivers in Virginia this month.

“This is going to be a major setback for several days for companies trying to move products around the country just due to the scale of the storm,” Jonathan Porter, the chief meteorologist for AccuWeather, which is based in State College, Pa., said on Friday.

“While much is going to be said about the snow, we’re also raising the alarm of the ice storm that’s going to occur across the Carolinas,” Mr. Porter said. “It looks like that’s a recipe for extended power outages and tree damage in those areas.”

Some airports and transportation departments were already bracing for potential travel issues.

David Roth, a senior forecaster with the National Weather Service, said Thursday evening that meteorologists expected the forecasts to evolve.

“There’s more uncertainty than usual,” Mr. Roth said. “When we’re dealing with the difference between rain and sleet and freezing rain and snow, subtle changes make a big difference.”

The storm is expected to move southeast later on Friday toward Iowa, where some areas could get six to 10 inches of snow, according to the Weather Service.

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