Wednesday, 11:59 a.m.
The latest winter storm has been every bit as nasty as projected in the grand scheme of things. In some cases, it may have been worse, while in others, the outcome was different. One place where these two intersected was across the southern half of Pennsylvania over into New Jersey and extreme southeastern New York state, where there was less snow than bargained for, but a lot more freezing rain. An inch or more of ice has brought down tree limbs and power lines over portions of south-central and southeastern Pennsylvania, the hardest hit area with freezing rain.
The primary low indeed, made it, to Pittsburgh this morning, while the secondary low is now off the New Jersey coast. As the primary low gives it up for the offshore storm, southwest winds will become west east of the Appalachians, allowing clouds to break for some sunshine in much of Virginia this afternoon, and sending temperatures jumping into the 40s and 50s. It will be a nice spike in temperatures, but it is one that won't last.
The air behind the front is bitterly cold. Look at the low temperatures in the Plains and Rockies as of 12z:
Frigid air will cover the region through tomorrow and even into Friday before there is some easing of the cold over the weekend. Look at the GFS departures for Friday:
It's even cold back in the Northwest, with some snow in the offing for Oregon and Idaho tomorrow into Friday as an upper-level disturbance moves across the region underneath an upper-level low over the Olympic Peninsula. The 12z Feb. 5 NAM 700mb forecast of heights and relative humidity for tomorrow evening shows this feature:
As additional disturbances roll inland from off the Pacific Ocean going into the weekend, the snow and eventually some ice will persist over the interior of Oregon and Idaho, with some rain and slowly rising snow levels west of the Cascades. There will even be some rain at times for central and northern California, especially on Saturday. It should be noted that none of the rain will get into southern California and the southern Rockies.
With the storm exiting the Northeast coast this afternoon and early tonight, it will be quiet weather wise from the Midwest to the East Coast Thursday and Friday. Then it will get a little more interesting over the weekend. Two separate features will zip across the country. The first of these will cause a wave of low pressure to develop near the Carolina coast late Saturday. It would appear that most of the moisture associated with this system will be along the Southeast coast, then dart offshore with the developing storm - not exactly the powerful storm that has been talked about for a week.
Then the next feature, more of a northern branch disturbance, will move across the northern Plains, and some light snow will break out across the Midwest, spreading into the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley Saturday afternoon and Saturday night.
With the lead system long gone and not much return moisture available to the trailing feature, it should lead to a weaker storm that impacts the Northeast Sunday and Sunday night into Monday morning. Here's the 12z Feb. 5 GFS model forecast for Sunday afternoon:
There is still time for things to change, so the idea of a weaker end game for this storm is still far from etched in stone. However, the current trend of splitting these features into two distinct entities is quite clear. And regardless of how it turns out, the trough will deepen in the East Sunday and Monday, meaning more arctic air gets pulled south and east across much of the country, and the surface high moving into the Midwest to open up next week means more frigid nighttime lows that will drop well below zero.
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