Friday, 11:15 a.m.
Here's one of the images of the day, of which there are many:
The white patches over West Virginia into the Maryland Panhandle depict snow - from Sandy 10 days ago! Yes, there was that much of it, and it has been that cold ever since to keep it there. For the first eight days of the month, temperatures are running more than 10 degrees below normal from Elkins to Beckley - not exactly a warm start to the month!
The other area with visible snow cover stretches from south-central New Jersey up into east-central Massachusetts, all from the nor'easter Wednesday and Wednesday night into early Thursday.
Both of these areas will see the snow melt away for the most part between now and the time a cold front passes on Tuesday. The sun angle is low, we are in solar winter, but the air masses tend to warm more easily in the first half of November compared to early February, which is the comparable sun angle to today. So, with a steady warmup this weekend and the prospect of much higher dew points Monday into Tuesday ahead of the cold front, what little will be left of the snow will be in the high ground of the Appalachians, and much of that on the north-facing sides of the hills and mountains.
This front can be traced to the deep upper-level trough diving into the West. Here's a look at the 500mb chart for this afternoon:
It is already snowing across Montana, and more is on the way through tonight before low pressure pulls out across northern Plains tomorrow. When combined with strong winds, it will create near-blizzard conditions in the northern counties of the state.
A second wave of low pressure will come out of Colorado later tomorrow and tomorrow night and will pull the rest of the cold air through the Rockies and onto the Plains. In the process, it will dump a few inches of snow on northeastern sections of the state, with the grand total in parts of ski country in excess of a foot.
The greatest concern I have this weekend, especially Sunday and Sunday night, is that of severe weather. There will be plenty of time to bring some high dew point air northward toward the approaching upper-level trough and strong cold front. The air mass contrast will be quite great, and thunderstorms are likely to erupt. The most likely outcome is for some straight line wind damage along with a period of heavy rain.
As this translates into the Ohio and Tennessee valleys, the line of heavy rain and thunderstorms will continue Monday, but it is likely to weaken Monday night and Tuesday as the upper-level support weakens.
The only threat of bad weather in the areas worst hit by Sandy and the nor'easter will be late Monday night through Tuesday in the form of rain, not snow. And there should be at least three, if not four, days after that when the weather is pretty tame. After the warmup ahead of the front in these areas, it will be cooler Wednesday into Friday, especially at night, as high pressure builds into the region then is slow to exit. However, it should warm again going into next weekend.
The pieces are falling into place for a powerful storm to develop in the central Plains this afternoon and strengthen tomorrow night as it crosses Pennsylvania into southern and eastern New England.
While the deep winter cold is on a temporary hiatus, it will come back in the wake of a potent storm at midweek, a storm that will deposit its heaviest snow on New York state and northern New England.
Once the storm off the Carolina coast pulls away from the coast tonight, the weather pattern will be rather quiet in much of the country into early next week, and it will also be rather mild in much of the nation. That will all change with a storm during the middle of next week that could dump heavy snow from parts of the Ohio Valley to the Northeast, and it will be followed by another blast of very cold air for the second half of next week into next weekend.
Cold and wintry weather is not leaving any time soon, though there will be a couple of breaks in the cold over the next week that will offer up some spring teases.
The worst of the bitter arctic air is easing over the next 24 hours, but there's still plenty of cold air in the pattern, and there will be a storm next week that may spell trouble as it runs from the Northwest early Monday to the East late Wednesday.
A record-setting cold air mass is in place from the southern Plains to the East Coast today. It will ease later this week, and another of its kind is unlikely, but the pattern remains cold for much of the next two weeks.