Joe Lundberg

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Moving on From the Storm

March 03, 2014; 11:12 AM

Monday, 11:55 a.m.

No matter how you slice it, the storm that was supposed to have dumped 6-12 inches of snow or more from portions of Ohio and Pennsylvania to southern and eastern New England has not done anything close to what had been forecast late last week. You can blame it on any number of reasons, from the cold, dry air pushing the southern stream system out of the way to the computer models having a hard time handling the evolution of the upper-level storm from off the California coast. The bottom line is this: north of the Mason-Dixon Line, this was a badly busted forecast, an epic fail if there ever was one.

I largely bought into it, so I can't rightly claim innocence in any way, shape, form or fashion! At least the entire forecast wasn't a loss, as the timing has been pretty much as expected across West Virginia to the Delmarva Peninsula, and there's an area where snow forecasts are going to end up fairly close to what actually fell. Farther south, of course, there will be more than was originally expected because of everything ending up shifting south. This southward trend, contrary to some belief, began Friday afternoon and evening, but it became a stampede Saturday, and at that point in time all forecasts had to be questioned.

One thing that is not being denied? The arctic air. Look at how far south it has pushed in the past 24 hours, through the Rio Grand Valley for one, and now across the Deep South from west to east. Pascagoula, Miss., dropped 19 degrees in two hours behind the front, and similar temperature falls will be repeated this afternoon across the Florida Panhandle, southern and eastern Alabama and parts of Georgia from one side of the front to the other.

Meanwhile, the arctic air is draining into the developing low pressure area now located over upstate South Carolina. Not just cold air, mind you, but very cold and exceedingly dry air! In fact, when the dew point temperatures are getting more than about 15 degrees lower than the actual ambient air temperature the snow just seems to stop, that in spite of what the radar is saying! The low levels are quickly drying out to the point where snow falling from the clouds is evaporating before reaching the ground! This process is usually seen on the front side of a storm, as the initially dry air needs time to be moistened up to the point where precipitation can actually make it to the Earth's surface.

This weak low will move off the coast early tonight, taking the bulk of the precipitation with it. High pressure will then build across the Ohio Valley tonight, and where it is clear overnight in the mid-Atlantic with light winds and a fresh snow cover, temperatures will tumble toward record lows. Tomorrow will remain much below normal throughout the South and East:

Tomorrow night will also be cold, but then the air mass will steadily moderate starting later Wednesday. That said, the moderating trend will continue to a point before being turned back or, at the very least, halted. One front will quietly cross the Midwest late tomorrow and tomorrow night and move through the Great Lakes sometime tomorrow night as well. There won't be a lot of snow with this feature but some. It will then slide across the Northeast on Wednesday and Wednesday night with a little, mainly in upstate New York and central and northern New England.

Arctic air will bleed south behind this front, especially over the Northeast, but it will likely have little impact on the Ohio Valley and mid-Atlantic states.

The bigger storm for the rest of the week will track across Texas tonight with just a little ice and rain, and it won't really get going until later Thursday and night as it reaches the Southeast coast. However, then, in the absence of downstream blocking, the storm should move away from the East coast, at best grazing eastern North Carolina and perhaps the mid-Atlantic and southeastern New England coastal areas. Even that looks to be somewhat of a stretch.

There will be a break in the cold Friday into Saturday! Enjoy it, as the cold returns to the Midwest, the Great Lakes and the Northeast later this weekend into the beginning 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.