Joe Lundberg

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January Meltdown Underway, But Arctic Hounds Are Calling

January 9, 2013; 11:02 AM ET

Wednesday, 11:35 a.m.

Slowly but surely the snowcover is being peeled back from the Mississippi Valley to the Northeast. Here's the latest analysis:

At this time of the year with such low sun angles, it's hard to melt snow. You really need high dew points to do it effectively, and up to now, we've not seen them in the areas with snow still on the ground. Furthermore, with the dry air that has been in place by and large, any time high pressure moves by with a clear sky and little wind at night, temperatures have been able to drop well below freezing and have done so pretty quickly during the evening hours so that you're really only getting a few hours with any real melting taking place.

That's all about to change, thanks to the storm in Texas. Here's the current dew point analysis from the South:

For all intents and purposes, most places south of Interstate 70 out to Missouri have dew points above freezing. With the storm in Texas moving north-northeast into Illinois and toward Lake Michigan tomorrow night, there will be a prolonged period of southerly winds that will transport more and more warmth and 'humid' air northward into the Ohio Valley and lower Great Lakes, boosting temperatures into the 50s and 60s, and dew point temperatures at least into the 40s in many places. No snowcover can survive for long in that kind of environment, even in the absence of sunshine!

By the time we get to Sunday night, I would expect there to be no snow on the ground in virtually all of Kansas, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, as well as most of Pennsylvania, southeastern New York and most of southern New England. There may not be much left in southern Michigan, and some of it will be peeled back in southern Wisconsin and Iowa back into Nebraska.

Just look at the projected temperature anomalies this weekend. Here's Saturday:

That is one HUGE area with temperatures more than 20 degrees above normal! Most areas across the lower Great Lakes and Ohio Valley into the mid-Atlantic and southern New England will have early morning lows at least 20 above normal and probably closer to 30 above normal. Obviously, some records are in jeopardy Saturday. Sunday looks much the same:

While the springlike warmth prevails east of the Mississippi this weekend, it will be turning very, very cold in the West, as you can plainly see through those images. It's going to take some time, though, for that cold to get to the East Coast. The downstream upper-level ridge is just too strong. Look at this ensemble forecast for Monday evening:

With such a strong feature offshore, it'll promote a southwest flow aloft that will keep the coldest air on the western side of the Appalachians through the beginning of next week. Eventually, the arctic hounds will come a-calling in the East, but it's hard for me to see how it gets as cold as it will be in the West and Rockies this weekend. That idea is enhanced by the utter lack of snowcover from the Ohio Valley on east by the end of the weekend. There is little doubt it trends colder the second half of next week from the Appalachians eastward after a very balmy start to the week, but how cold it gets remains very uncertain. Suffice it to say, though, that most of the country from the Appalachians on West will be below normal even by the dead of winter standards through the heart of next week.

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

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About This Blog

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