Joe Lundberg

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A Cool and Relatively Quiet Entrance into Autumn

September 19, 2012; 9:50 AM ET

Wednesday, 11:30 a.m.

The cold front now off the East coast helped to squeeze a lot of water out of the soggy atmosphere in the past 24 hours. Dew points surged to 70 into southern New England, and that helped fuel some of the tropical downpours that brought totals of several inches to parts of Pennsylvania into southern New England. Not only was there a lot of rain, but strong winds caused power outages in the region as well, with some wind gusts in the 50- to 60-mph range.

That storm has raced through Quebec and pulled the cold front off the mid-Atlantic coast, and it has largely cleared the New England coast as well. Not to be outdone, another storm is already dropping southward across western Manitoba toward Minnesota. It's driving a cold front through the northern Rockies and northern Plains, and in the process it is kicking up the wind yet again across parts of the Midwest back into the Dakotas in the 30- to 40-mph range already this morning.

If you look at the upper-level forecast for tomorrow morning, you can see the strength of the jet stream screaming across the Prairie Provinces toward the Mississippi Valley:

When you combine the upper-level chart with the surface storm, the flow is aligned behind the cold front, which is contributing directly to the strong winds buffeting the region. This time around, though, there won't be nearly the moisture to contend with, so rain amounts will pale across parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan when compared to the deluges in the East yesterday.

Normally you would expect this upstream system to fly right along and sweep off the East coast in another day. The problem with that is the downstream ridge over the northern Atlantic:

This will force the cold surface storm to end up rolling north of the Great Lakes and roll around the upper-level low over northwestern Ontario. The front will run into the southwest flow aloft over the Appalachians and be forced to come to a screeching halt, never clearing the mountains.

Still another disturbance will drop south out of central Canada toward the Midwest on Friday:

The wind with this system won't be nearly as strong as with the ones ahead of it. However, there will be a little more rain. In fact, showers and some gusty thunderstorms are likely to blossom on Friday from the mid-Mississippi Valley into the Ohio Valley. They will then spread into the Appalachians Friday night and Saturday, reaching the mid-Atlantic coast and western New England late Saturday and Saturday night.

There will be a nice recovery in temperatures ahead of this front, especially east of the Appalachians, Friday into Saturday, but behind the front, it will end up even cooler than it has been the past day or two. High pressure will move over the Dakotas Saturday afternoon and Saturday night, and that may mean frost by Sunday morning over parts of the Dakotas and Minnesota down into Iowa and perhaps eastern Nebraska.

The following night, that high will slide over the Ohio and Tennessee valleys, and it's not out of the question that a few of the coldest locations will see a tinge of frost in the Ohio Valley into parts of West Virginia and western Pennsylvania Monday morning. The same is true over central and northeastern Pennsylvania into upstate New York and northern New England Monday night as that high slides eastward.

If you start from tonight and go forward through the weekend, the pattern overall is not really a stormy one, despite the wind forecasts across the Dakotas and Midwest. It certainly won't be a wet pattern, especially across the South and throughout the western Plains and the West. There will be plenty of chill, though, from the eastern Plains into the Southeast. In contrast, there will be a lot of warmth in the Northwest and the northern Rockies.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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Joe Lundberg
Joe Lundberg, a veteran AccuWeather.com forecaster and meteorologist, covers both short and long-term U.S. weather on this blog.