Joe Lundberg

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More Storms and More Cold Right Into the Beginning of Spring

March 13, 2013; 9:15 AM

Wednesday, 11:30 a.m.

All hope of an early spring is now completely gone across from the northern Rockies and the central and northern Plains to the East. In fact, it's really more of a case of when warmth will return and last for more than a day or two. Given the current state of affairs in the atmosphere, it's hard to envision something like that happening, especially from the northern Plains and Midwest to the mid-Atlantic and New England.

If you want warm, there's now plenty of it in the Southwest! Temperatures reached the 80s in southern Arizona and parts of California on Tuesday and soared into the 60s over parts of Washington and Oregon:

If you look at the current jet stream configuration, it makes a lot of sense:

North of the ridge axis, though, a pipeline of moisture is streaming toward northwestern Washington, Vancouver and British Columbia, with individual disturbances focusing bouts of heavy rain on those areas. It doesn't appear ready to back off until the weekend, and even then, it won't be completely dry, just not as stormy.

Of course, in looking at that same jet stream map for this evening, you can clearly see the deep upper-level trough digging into the East, bringing a chilly air mass into the Deep South and Southeast this afternoon and tonight. The trough will lift out or migrate downstream off the East Coast Friday, but look again at the projected jet stream flow for Friday evening from the GFS:

See that strong upper-level ridge downstream over the Atlantic, poking its nose west or northwestward into Greenland? That, my friends, is a strong block! And it means the warmth spreading across the southern Rockies will only be able to come so far north and east before it runs into a road block. Indeed, the system coming out of Alberta and Saskatchewan tomorrow night will squirt across the northern Plains Friday, spreading snow across North Dakota and Minnesota into the Great Lakes. With such a strong downstream block in place, the storm will be forced to slide around the cold air and underneath the block. Here's the Canadian model forecast for Saturday morning:

We can say three things about this:

1) There will be a nice rebound or surge of warmth south of the storm, even up into parts of Virginia. Parts of the state will soar toward 70 on Saturday, and it will clearly be in the 70s in the Carolinas and Georgia.

2) North of the storm, it will stay cold and it will snow. It may not be a prodigious snow maker, but shovels will be required across upstate New York and much of interior New England, perhaps to I-80 for a time.

3) Cold air will slosh in behind the storm. That means the Midwest will turn colder again on Saturday, as will the Great Lakes, with the cold air bleeding into the Ohio Valley and returning to the mid-Atlantic later.

It gets rather complicated after that. With a flatter upstream ridge on the West, the system rolling into the Northwest Saturday and Saturday night should cross the Rockies Sunday and move out onto the central Plains Sunday. From there, it remains almost anyone's guess as to where the storm will track. Some take it to the Great Lakes. Others keep it south, aiming instead more toward the mid-Atlantic. That's a pretty wide spread! The current 'consensus,' if there is one, is for at least a primary storm to get into the Great Lakes. However, with so much cold air held in place over the Northeast, it will be like pulling teeth to get the warmth into New England. That tells me a secondary storm is likely to form over the mid-Atlantic, and that means a winter precipitation event is quite likely over much of the Northeast. What form that takes is 'to be determined,' but chances are good that much of at least central and northern New England (if not southern New England), New York and parts of Pennsylvania are likely to see a period of accumulating snow.

There's still more cold, and more storms, to follow right through the beginning of spring next Wednesday.

I'll be watching from the sidelines through the weekend as I take time to visit one of my radio clients, WCOA, in Pensacola, Fla. Yeah, I know. Tough assignment! But someone has to do it, so it might as well be me.

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.