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Winter – which starts Saturday afternoon – will begin on the wild side this weekend across much of the central and eastern U.S., with a crazy potpourri that includes snow, ice, flooding rain, fog, the chance of tornadoes and even some record-setting warmth.

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A ferocious storm, which will affect nearly 30 states, will likely lead to travel problems for the millions of people heading out for the Christmas holiday, AccuWeather reports.

The action begins today: Rain is forecast today from the southern Plains across the mid-Mississippi and Ohio Valleys and into southern New England, with freezing rain for parts of the central Plains and snow in the Rockies and Great Lakes, according to the National Weather Service. Severe thunderstorms are possible for parts of the southern Plains and lower Mississippi Valley.

On Saturday, on the cold side of the storm, light freezing rain will spread from the central Plains to the upper Midwest, which will transition over to snow late Saturday into Sunday, meteorologist Chris Dolce of the Weather Channel reported.

Cities such as Kansas City, Des Moines and Milwaukee should all see snow, though most of the significant snow should stay northwest of Chicago, the Weather Channel forecast. AccuWeather reports that some spots could see as much as a foot of snow.

Snow and ice are also forecast in northern New England on Sunday.

To the south and east of the wintry precipitation, heavy rain will be the main concern, which could become heavy enough to cause urban flooding.

The weather service has placed parts of 10 states – all the way from southern Oklahoma to western New York state, a distance of almost 1,200 miles – under flood watches and warnings due to the forecast of heavy rain and melting snow.

The states that are forecast to see "excessive rainfall" are Arkansas and Missouri on Saturday and Indiana and Ohio on Sunday.

"Cities that have a chance of heavy rain include Dallas, Memphis, Atlanta, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh," AccuWeather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said. "With the rain will come with the potential for episodes of dense fog and low ceilings, which could add to flight delays and cause cancellations."

River flooding is most likely in southern Indiana and central Ohio, the weather service predicted.

Even further to the south, severe thunderstorms are forecast Saturday, with damaging wind gusts and a few embedded tornadoes the primary threats, according to the Storm Prediction Center. The center has pinpointed cities such as Houston, San Antonio, Austin, and New Orleans at greatest risk.

Mike Smith, AccuWeather meteorologist, said "east Texas could have violent tornadoes Saturday afternoon and evening, possibly spreading to portions of Arkansas and Louisiana."

Springlike warmth will spread from the Southeast and up the East Coast this weekend. On Saturday, highs in the 70s will be recorded as far north as parts of Virginia, Weather Channel meteorologist Chrissy Warrilow reported.

Sunday's warmth over the Ohio Valley and East may not only threaten some daily records, Warrilow said, but also push toward all-time December records in a few spots on the first full day of winter. This includes Philadelphia, where the December record high is 73 degrees.

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