Wednesday, 11:55 a.m.
The first impulse of nasty weather moved through the South and Southeast yesterday, dumping 3 to 7 inches of snow on the Cape - as in Cape Hatteras, along with up to an inch of sleet on parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas. Now the 'real' storm is forming south of Pensacola, Fla., and it has already produced a lot of freezing rain and sleet in portions of northern Alabama and North Georgia into parts of South Carolina. As the storm slowly gets better organized and stronger this afternoon and heads for the Southeast coast tonight, the north to northeast winds are pulling a deeper cold southward, enough that most of the precipitation in central and northwestern South Carolina is now in the form of snow, some of it coming down quite hard.
That snow is now spreading into North Carolina, and as the afternoon progresses, the snow will break out across Virginia and southern West Virginia. In most of Virginia, it won't waste time getting down to business, either! By tomorrow morning, the low center will be nearing Cape Hatteras, and the precipitation shield will have expanded all the way into southwestern New England and the lower Hudson Valley, The leading edge of it will all be in the form of snow, as the frigid arctic air in place in the East won't magically give up ground willingly.
The deepening storm looks to hug, or, at the very least parallel, the coast as it travels north-northeastward tomorrow and tomorrow night, deepening along the way. The bulk of the precipitation will stay east of the spine of the Appalachians, but some of it will spill over to the western slopes later tonight and tomorrow. Still, this will be a major snowstorm for a high percentage of the East all the way down to northeastern Georgia and the Carolinas. Here's the latest snowfall accumulation for the storm from AccuWeather.com:
Pretty much all locations from the Maine coast through all of southeastern New England, including all of Rhode Island and much of Connecticut, will see a change from snow to at least sleet and freezing rain. In many cases, it will go over to all rain. That changeover line will get just beyond Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, as well as Philadelphia and New York City. While accumulations in those cities will be cut because of this changeover, there will still be an initial burst of snow that will make for a travelers' nightmare late tonight and early tomorrow.
Where it is all snow, which is from portions of South Carolina through central and western North Carolina, central and western Virginia, central and western Maryland and much of southern and eastern Pennsylvania, it will be a crippling snowstorm, with more than a foot likely to fall in the core that area. The same is true across the Northwest Hills of Connecticut up into the Berkshires and portions of Vermont, much of New Hampshire and a good percentage of Maine.
After that, winter is over, right??!!
No, there will be a couple of vigorous upper-level disturbances that will follow this storm. The first will split into two pieces, with the main low heading into the upper Great Lakes tomorrow night and Friday, while an area of snow will move out of the Dakotas and across the mid-Mississippi Valley toward Kentucky and Tennessee. Several inches of snow may fall in the heart of this zone, but that's going to be in a narrow region, with most places only getting an inch or two. Believe it or not, it is likely to snow again in Virginia and the Carolinas Friday night with this trough swinging through, though the amounts will be much lighter - again, generally an inch or two.
As the trough moves off the East coast Saturday morning, another storm will blow up out over the Atlantic. It could graze southern and eastern New England with snow for a time Saturday, but the main impact of this whole system is to draw another shot of arctic air southeastward from the northern Plains and Midwest to the East Coast for the weekend.
That will set the stage for still another upper-level disturbance to come flying over the top of the upper-level ridge over the interior West. As it tries to pull warmer air out of the Rockies and onto the Plains, it will run into the arctic air and cause snow to break out Saturday in the Dakotas, a snow that will then streak southeastward across Iowa toward northern and central Illinois into Indiana Saturday afternoon. The snow will then move across the central Appalachians Saturday night and tend to fizzle coming through the mid-Atlantic Sunday.
After that, a large surface high settle into the East Monday morning, meaning another very cold morning. Then the air mass will begin to moderate as the next storm is likely to head for the northern Great Lakes and pull milder air into the Ohio Valley and then the East. The real warmup, though, will wait until the second half of next week. Then we'll start to see the massive snow piles shrink!
One strong cold front moving through the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley this afternoon will be followed by another one to begin next week, and the recurving of a Typhoon in the western Pacific may enhance the cooling behind it.
A quick surge of heat and humidity is heading eastward today from the central and southern Plains. Behind it will come still another refreshing air mass later this week, while the West stays largely hot and dry.
Tropical Storm Arthur has formed in the Atlantic east of Florida and will likely graze eastern North Carolina Thursday night and early Friday before passing south and east of New England late Friday and Friday night.
An area of low pressure east of Florida is likely to develop in the next three days, and could become the first named storm of the year in time. It will delay the passage of a cold front off the East Coast until week's end, keeping the East very humid until Friday.
Wet weather has plagued the Midwest and northern Plains this month, and it's helping to keep temperatures down across much of the country from the northern Rockies to the mid-Atlantic states and New England. Look for this to persist into next week.