Joe Lundberg

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Prospects of Getting Snow by or on Christmas Still Fairly High for Some

December 21, 2012; 10:50 AM ET

Friday, 11:20 a.m.

Most of the accumulating snow is now over across the Midwest, and skies have largely cleared. Parts of Iowa and Wisconsin picked up over a foot of the white stuff, although the snow barely reached Chicago on the back end of the storm, with just 0.2 of an inch being reported officially at O'Hare. There will be some snow in the air this afternoon into tonight across Ohio and into the mountains of West Virginia, while it'll continue into Saturday across western and northern Pennsylvania into upstate New York. In these latter areas, there can be another 6 inches or more before it winds down tomorrow night.

Wind has been a huge problem with this storm. In the cold air, it has been gusting upward of 40 and 50 mph, resulting in a lot of blowing and drifting snow. In the warm air, it gusted that high in the mid-Atlantic region overnight and into southern and eastern New England so far today ahead of a cold front. The strong winds on the back side of the storm will translate into the mid-Atlantic tomorrow as the flow becomes aligned for a time.

With one storm winding down, it's time to start looking for the next one. I won't necessarily count the daily barrage of snow in the mountains of the West, as the seemingly permanent trough there is allowing one disturbance after another to roll inland and bring frequent bursts of snow to parts of the Sierra and the Cascades, but there are two more systems in the hopper, if you will, and both may bring a white Christmas to areas that have little or nothing on the ground. Even me, a self-proclaimed 'warminista', would be thrilled by a couple of inches of white when I come into work Christmas morning! And I might get that very thing.

The first of these disturbances will be rather weak, flat and fast-moving. It won't have a lot of moisture to work with, so even where it does snow, it won't be a lot. That said, if there's an inch or two of snow where none had existed before, and it falls by the end of the day on Christmas, then it counts as a white Christmas! It will be hard to find this system before Sunday, but by then clouds should start to gather from southeastern Texas to the lower Mississippi Valley, spreading across the South and the Tennessee Valley later Sunday. A close-up look at the GFS 500mb forecast for Monday afternoon shows the feature in question:

Notice the blocking upper-level low northeast of it, forcing this disturbance to head more east than north with time. That limits the northward extent of its precipitation shield, but it should impact areas from the Ohio Valley to at least southern New England.

And while it won't be terribly cold across parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, southern New York and southern New England, it may well be cold enough to support snow. Right now I would think most areas that get snow would fall in the 1- to 3-inch range, but some lucky souls near the track of the feature that are all snow may get into the upper end of the 3- to 6-inch range before this feature darts out to see Christmas afternoon.

From that image above, you can already see the second system, and it could bring snow into the central and southern Rockies later Christmas Eve into Christmas morning. In fact, snow could spread down into the Texas Panhandle and affect portions of Oklahoma with snow on Tuesday, maybe even into parts of Arkansas! Certainly the Ozarks are in on the discussion of getting snow at the very last minute Christmas Day.

What is not stated in all of this is that the pattern is fairly active going forward, and it's also getting colder. As mild as it has been in December, that should be welcome news for those who operate ski resorts or who are invested in things like a snow plowing business and the like. If you have to heat your home, then it may not be nearly so welcome. However, it is what it is, and we'll find a way to deal with it, snow or no!

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

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