Joe Lundberg

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The Onslaught Continues, But With a Glimmer of Hope

February 10, 2014; 11:16 AM ET

Monday, 11:55 A.M.

Thirty-eight days.

Counting today, that's how many days there are remaining until the vernal equinox. In light of the winter to date, and what lies ahead over the next week, the cries of 'uncle' will no doubt grow louder.

Today is very, very cold across most of the nation from the Plains on east. The morning minimums:

To give you an idea of just how cold it has been, here are the departures from normal for the month through Saturday:

Basically everyone from the Appalachians on west has been locked in the Deep Freeze all month long, and the next few days will continue that bitterly cold pattern. Here are the projected temperature departures from normal for tomorrow:

That sets the stage for a storm to form over the north-central Gulf of Mexico tomorrow night into Wednesday morning. It's tied to a disturbance moving inland through the Southwest today that currently doesn't have a lot to show for it after bringing some rain into California yesterday and last night. However, with all of the chilly air in the low levels of the atmosphere from the southern Plains to the Southeast, it won't take much to moisten up the atmosphere and generate a lot of clouds, along with some light precipitation tonight and tomorrow.

One little piece of moisture will dart across Alabama into Georgia, then into the Carolinas tomorrow into tomorrow night. Again, much of this is rain, but there can be some ice and snow on the northern fringe of the precipitation shield across northern Georgia into upstate South Carolina and portions of North Carolina. This, however, will merely serve as the appetizer before the main course, and that will begin to blossom tomorrow night across portions of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

By the time we finish Wednesday, the low will be reorganizing along the Southeast coast. Here's a peek at the 12z Feb. 10 GFS model surface forecast for 0z Thursday:

With surface high pressure over New England at that time, there will be some cold air damming up against the Appalachians. That means the low-level arctic air will do its best to hold its ground Wednesday night and Thursday as the storm moves up along the Southeast coast, then passes just east of the mid-Atlantic coast later Thursday and early Thursday night.

And therein lies the million dollar question today: will the storm hug the coast while deepening, as is depicted by the European model and, to somewhat of a lesser degree, the 12z Canadian model? If that is true, it would throw heavy snow back to the spine of the Appalachians, and most places between the Appalachians to areas just west of the I-95 corridor. It would likely be mostly a heavy rain event along and especially east of the I-95 corridor, though some snow and ice could be involved at the start and perhaps end of the storm.

On the other hand, the latest NAM and GFS models are not as far west, and should not be ignored. The big picture still has the PNA negative, meaning upper level troughiness along the West Coast, and an NAO that is mainly positive, thus a progressive flow and no blocking. That's the way it has been for a while, and would imply the storm does, indeed, track farther east.

Either way, it won't completely let the cold go. In fact, another upper-level disturbance tracking across the northern Plains into the Midwest Thursday, then into the Great Lakes, will generate some snow, and the cold will be renewed behind it going into the weekend.

There is, however, a little light at the end of the tunnel, a glimmer of hope in this interminably cold and stormy winter. Look at the GFS ensembles for next Thursday:

Those are actually above-average heights in the East and Northeast! And it looks like by the second half of next week, there may actually be some sort of melting going on! Stay tuned for more details...AFTER the storm.

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.