Wednesday, 11:15 a.m.
Since the Blizzard of 2013, the storms that have been roaming the country have been far weaker. That looks to remain the case through the weekend. Enjoy the lull, because next week promises to become much more active.
On the charts today is a fast-moving wave of low pressure, already over southwestern Virginia:
The upper-level support for this low is still back over the Ohio and Tennessee valleys. You can see that in one of two ways. First, the upper-level 500mb initialization chart for the NAM model:
Visually, though, we see it much more clearly from the infrared satellite picture as of 10 a.m. EST:
This feature will streak eastward this afternoon and dart off the mid-Atlantic tonight. It is a positively tilted, relatively flat wave, so development until it is off the coast will be minimal, thereby limiting the overall precipitation potential of the storm. Furthermore, because the boundary layer is on the warm side, some of that initial precipitation will be as rain, even up into Pennsylvania. That reduces the snow potential even more. So, outside of the central Appalachians, it will be very hard for anyone to see more than an inch or two of snow, plain and simple.
Behind this storm, the next one on the docket will bring snow into the Dakotas this afternoon, through Minnesota into Wisconsin tonight, then into Michigan tomorrow. It will not be a strong storm, and it will be starved for moisture. There can be a couple of inches of snow in much of the area from central North Dakota into southern Minnesota eastward into central and northern Michigan, but there will be some places that get more than 3 inches.
This feature will pull arctic air back into the pattern, first into the northern Plains and Midwest, then into the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley on Friday, then into the South and East this weekend. And that weekend storm? Well, you can see where the disturbance is late Saturday that can spark this storm:
The problem is that as this rounds the base of the trough, the development will be too far offshore to be of any meaning to the mid-Atlantic coast and most of New England. MAYBE eastern Maine can cash in on some snow late in the period as the storm eventually does blossom well out over the Atlantic then heads into eastern Canada. Otherwise, expect the cold to reign this weekend, with scattered snow showers from the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley into the Appalachians (north to south), as well as the Northeast.
Next week? Much different. A system that brings rain through British Columbia late Friday night into Saturday will move southeastward into the Rockies later in the weekend then cause low pressure to redevelop east of the Rockies Sunday night and Monday. It is likely to spark strong to severe thunderstorms from eastern Texas and eastern Oklahoma into the Mississippi Valley, while snow may affect parts of the Midwest, Great Lakes and northern Ohio Valley.
And there will be another storm after that later in the week that could be even stronger than the first one. So, in short, enjoy the brief respite between big storms. It will be exactly that - brief.
Two systems will delay the onset of warm weather in the Ohio Valley and the East over the next week or so, but then it should get warm all across the country heading into the Memorial Day weekend.
A turn to much colder air over the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states will set the stage for a rain and snow storm later this weekend before it turns much warmer later next week.
It's warm now, but will turn much colder this weekend, with a storm threat later Saturday into Sunday. Warmth will return by the second half of next week.
Though it is cold now east of the Mississippi, with a couple of opportunities for snow into the weekend, a blast of warmth is due for much of the country east of the Rockies next week.
Warm air will once again surge eastward from the Plains to the East Coast this weekend and early next week. A strong storm next Tuesday and Wednesday will then be followed by colder air later next week.
A storm in Southeast Texas will generate severe thunderstorms this afternoon and tonight, and some wet snow on its western flank as it heads into the Ohio Valley tomorrow.