Hot air is spreading from the middle of the country toward the western Great Lakes, the Ohio Valley and across the Southeast. However, cooler air is reluctant to leave the Northeast. In the battle zone, there is a loosely organized corridor of clouds, showers and thunderstorms extending from the northern Plains to the upper Ohio Valley. This morning, heavy rain from slow-moving thunderstorms sent streams out of their banks and flooded roadways in eastern Ohio. The reason I said the corridor of showers and thunderstorms was loosely organized is that there are multiple bands. One ran from Iowa to southern Illinois this morning, while another stretched from Lake Erie to West Virginia. This video suggests how things may unfold from today through the weekend.
Looking ahead to late next week, some of the computer models suggest a hurricane could affect areas between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic east of the Bahamas. We are entering the prime part of the Atlantic hurricane season, but at this point there is only one model I am prepared to accept:
Rain with areas of fog should spread from Virginia to New Jersey Monday or Monday night then spread into New England for Tuesday. From the mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania into the interior of New England this could at least start as snow or ice. The GFS for 1 AM New Year's Day looks interesting. See the map below. Whether or not this storm develops and where it will snow or rain cannot be precisely predicted two weeks in advance using these models.
This map is a spaghetti plot showing the upper air currents predicted by members of last night's GFS ensembles. In looking at each line, you see variations, but they all show the idea of major trough centered east of the middle of the country on Christmas Eve.
Any storm in the Northeast could be disruptive for travel, whether it turns out to be rain and fog or snow and ice. If a strong storm develops, the best chance for snow on Wednesday will be over the central or northern Great Lakes region. This map is last night's GFS operational solution for 7 p.m. ET Christmas Eve.
The map below shows the low pressure area and cold front now moving into the East. Looking at the temperatures, truly cold air is well behind the cold front. This is in line with the idea that the front itself is the leading edge of the change to colder conditions.
The following map shows why areas to be affected by the cold front will not have a long period of rain. However, along and north of the storm center, the precipitation will last longer.
The satellite picture shows a deck of clouds all the way along I-80 from Nebraska to New Jersey with few holes along the way. However, nobody in the cloud zone is having any substantial precipitation. There was some spotty freezing drizzle this morning.