Thursday, 11:30 a.m.
There is no shortage of interesting things to talk about in the weather these days. The cold is garnering much of the headlines, though in terms of its absolute value, it's not really close to record setting. It is, however, becoming one of the longest stretches of this kind of cold since January of 2009 from the Midwest to the mid-Atlantic. It's not there yet, but when all is said and done, it'll end up pretty close.
Then there is the storm that brought some fluffy and/or light snows through the Great Lakes and parts of the Midwest into the Ohio Valley yesterday, and across the mid-Atlantic overnight and early this morning. Here's a view of what fell overnight across Maryland and Virginia, courtesy of the National Weather Service office in Sterling, Va.:
That one amount in southern Maryland along the Chesapeake Bay of 5.5 inches is quite impressive! I was down there on the Total200 ride two summers ago, and into St. Mary's last summer on the same ride, and to get that much snow that far south, especially out of a weak system like that, is quite impressive!
As weak as it was, that gives you the idea of the potential of the storm if it had any moisture to work with and any kind of low-level warmth. Well, as it darts away from the East Coast this afternoon and out over the comparatively warm waters of the Gulf stream, that storm will deepen and do so explosively tonight and tomorrow morning as it races well southeast of Newfoundland and heads north-northeastward from there on a course that will bring it well southeast of Greenland. Look at the model forecast for tomorrow night:
Both the NAM (pictured above) and the GFS drop the pressure below 932mb!! That's a monster storm, even if it will be over the open ocean. As stated yesterday, that storm is helping to keep the one for tomorrow and tomorrow night from being anywhere near impressive as it moves across the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley then crosses the mid-Atlantic and south of New England late tomorrow and tomorrow night. When you combine that with a split between the main storm passing off the Virginia Capes and a weaker, moisture-starved low crossing the Great Lakes, you'll see overall reduced snow amounts. That said, there are a few places that will get 3 or more inches of snow from the storm, probably in parts of Maryland and Virginia to the Delmarva Peninsula. Any chance of it bringing more prolific snow farther north is just off the table. Oh what a difference a few days makes!
The cold will stay into the weekend from the Midwest to the Northeast. It won't be any more bitter than it has been, but by the same token, it won't be anywhere close to normal, either. And with a surface high over the Midwest and mid-Mississippi Valley Friday night, it will be a very cold night under a clear, moonlit sky with little wind. That same setup will occur Saturday night farther east over the eastern Great Lakes and Ohio Valley into the mid-Atlantic:
That high will set up a pretty strong low-level inversion that won't be easily erased. In the end, it will be wiped out, but it'll be a slow process. The warm air riding in aloft will have much less resistance, so as clouds increase and precipitation breaks out, snow could easily change to sleet and freezing rain in the Midwest and western Ohio Valley later Sunday and Sunday night. The same icy scenario could well unfold late Sunday night and Monday in the northern mid-Atlantic, delaying the true warmup by a day. But the warmth won't be denied.
Look at the strength of the upper-level ridge returning to the northwest Caribbean/southwest Atlantic by Monday night and Tuesday morning:
With nothing downstream to stop the warming, it will win the battle over time, boosting temperatures way above normal once again, just like what we say only two weeks ago in the middle of the country. It will reach the East in full force Wednesday ahead of any cold front. Look at the projected temperature anomalies for next Wednesday:
All that aside, it is still the dead of winter. And that same image portends of another massive arctic air mass already drilling into the northern Plains and Midwest. In other words, enjoy the brief respite from the bitter cold. It will be exactly that - brief.
The storm that will bring snow across the Ohio Valley and lower Great Lakes to parts of the mid-Atlantic and much of New England will have several pieces to it, each one having an impact on who gets rain versus a mix of rain and snow, versus all snow, and how much snow is likely to fall.
Cold and dry weather is the rule across the country right now, but the respite from stormy weather will be brief. A new storm taking shape Friday in the Mississippi Valley will spread more rain, ice and snow over the eastern half of the country going into the weekend.
In the wake of the feature bringing snow through the mid-Atlantic and southern New England today, there will be a nice little period of cold and quiet weather for most of the country until the next storm begins to take shape over the southern Plains and Mississippi Valley late Friday into Friday night.
Winter doesn't officially begin until Dec. 21, but there's plenty of evidence of winter already fully in force around the country. The rest of fall will largely be cold in much of the nation before it tries to moderate later next week.
One fast-moving storm will dump snow, ice and rain over a wide area from Arkansas to southern New England this afternoon and tonight. Another will follow for later in the weekend.
Two separate features will zip across the eastern half of the country by the start of the weekend, generating rain, thunderstorms, ice and snow before it quickly dries out to start the weekend.