By Mary Wisniewski
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Stormy winter weather will spread snow, ice, rain and travel problems across the Midwest and eastern U.S. over the weekend, leading into a brutal cold snap for the work week, meteorologists said.
On Saturday evening, snow and ice were falling in the eastern United States, while violent thunderstorms were seen in the deep south, including two tornadoes in Mississippi, said Frank Strait, senior meteorologist for AccuWeather.com.
A second part of the storm was centered in the Plains Saturday, and will be tracking through the upper Midwest, bringing one to three inches (2.5 to 7.5 cm) of snow, with locally higher amounts, from the Oklahoma Panhandle through the Chicago/Milwaukee area by midday Sunday, Strait said.
Heavier snow will fall along the U.S./Canada border over northern Minnesota and northern North Dakota, where some locations could get 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm), said AccuWeather.com.
The Carolina coastal plains and the Virginia Tidewater area could see damaging winds and a possible tornado on Sunday, with potential for flash floods, Strait said.
Cold weather from Canada will follow the storms in the first half of the work week, with a "one-two punch," Strait said.
"The first push of cold air is pretty cold, but not as cold as the second shot starting Tuesday," Strait said.
Strait said it's not unusual to get cold weather in the northern United States in early January, but what's coming will be "brutal," with temperatures in Chicago struggling to get above zero Fahrenheit (-17 Celsius) on Wednesday.
The Upper Midwest will see the coldest temperatures, but the East Coast will also see lows below 10 degrees F (-12 C) according to the National Weather Service. Freezing temperatures could spread into the Deep South.
(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski Editing by W Simon)