Joe Lundberg

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Halftime of Winter Over

January 31, 2013; 10:14 AM ET

Thursday, 11:15 A.M.

With Baltimore and San Francisco just three days away from doing battle to lay claim to the Lombardi Trophy, I thought it only appropriate to liken the recent warmth to a break in winter. And since we're just about to reach the official halfway mark of the winter season, likening that break to halftime in a football game seems all that much more reasonable. The break in the cold was much shorter in the grand scheme of things than the halftime break will be on Sunday night, which will go on for what seems like an eternity, but I think you get the picture.

What a break it was, though. Records were shattered all over the place. Just yesterday, Jacksonville, Fla., reached 85, not just a record for the date, but a new record for the month as a whole. Records were shattered from Maine to Florida, and out into the Great Lakes and Tennessee Valley before a cold front entered the picture to send temperatures spiraling downward.

Along with the warmth came a lot of rain and severe weather. Over 500 separate reports of severe weather will be logged between Tuesday morning and this morning, with the vast majority of those being of the wind damage variety. There were a few tornadoes on the northwest side of Atlanta. In terms of rain, Boone, N.C., picked up nearly 6 inches of it with many locations across the South into the East and back into the Ohio and Tennessee valleys racked up over 2 inches of rain ahead of the cold front.

Wind remains a real around this very large storm, that is now in Quebec. Along the New England coast, winds have been clocked to nearly 60 mph this morning with a squall line tied to the cold front. And it's not exactly calm behind the front across southern New England back into the mid-Atlantic states, with many wind gusts in the 40- to 50-mph range. Then, as you travel westward into the Appalachians and points west, those nasty winds are being accompanied by flurries and heavier snow squalls. In addition, the air is just that much colder, basically in the 20s out to southern and eastern sections of lower Michigan, Indiana, and southern and eastern Illinois. And the farther north and west you go across the Midwest into the Dakotas, the colder it gets - teens, then single digits, then sub-zero cold. Look at how cold it was overnight:

Now that the cold air is in, it's going to stay for the better part of a week, especially from around the Great Lakes to New England. In fact, the cold will be hardest to dislodge from New England next week. It's not so much that we have classic downstream blocking in the Atlantic, but given the high amplitude of the pattern, and strong ridge over the eastern and northeastern Atlantic, it will have more or less the same effect.

And while the next several days through the weekend and early next week will be devoid of any major storms, there will still be some snow. In fact, there will be a number of places from the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley into the mid-Atlantic and New England that will see snow in the air each of the next four or five days! Now, most of it won't be very much at all, but even at that the snow can be enough to make for some travel challenges. And some of the ground laid bare by the taste of spring the past couple of days will turn white again.

One such disturbance will come out of the Midwest this afternoon, scoot across the Ohio Valley tonight, and then dart of the mid-Atlantic coast tomorrow morning. In the process, most places will get less than an inch of snow, but a few spots, especially in the central Appalachians, will get one to three inches of snow. And there can be enough snow later tonight and first thing tomorrow in the northern mid-Atlantic to create skating rink conditions to begin the morning commute. What a swing in little more than 24 hours, eh?

Right behind that feature will come another out of the northern Rockies late tonight and tomorrow morning, moving across the northern Plains tomorrow and into the Ohio Valley tomorrow night. Again, there won't be a lot of moisture with this disturbance, but there can be a coating to an inch or two of snow in parts of the Dakotas into Iowa, southernmost Minnesota, southern Wisconsin, and northern Illinois into Indiana by Saturday morning. Little of the snow will survive over the Appalachians into the mid-Atlantic late Saturday and Saturday night, but wait, your turn is coming.

Still another feature will move into the Great Lakes Saturday night, depicted here early Sunday morning:

The pressures will gradually lower along the southern New England coast Sunday, and as moisture is pulled into the circulation of a developing low, and the air aloft grows colder, snow will start to break out through the Northeast. Again, it's unlikely to be a heavy snow storm per se, but I can see several inches of it over parts of southern and eastern New England later Sunday and Sunday night if everything works out right.

By Monday morning, still another disturbance will moving into the Midwest, accompanied by some light snow across parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin into Michigan. With a somewhat farther north track, it will allow somewhat warmer air to be drawn out of the eastern Rockies and across the Plains into the Midwest, then the Ohio Valley. And yet another one follows that system into the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes by Tuesday!

All of these features through the weekend will drag the cold air into the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, and keep it there. As we go deeper into next week, the cold will hang on in the Northeast, but another broad-based warming will start to fan out across the Plains and Mississippi Valley. There's growing support for some of that warmth to return to the East by this time next week, but it's not likely to be as warm as it was ahead of the cold front that is now moving off the East Coast.

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


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