Joe Lundberg

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The Rocky Road to an All Too Brief Warmup

February 14, 2014; 10:50 AM ET

Friday, 11:55 a.m.

The big storm is now over. The last of the steady precipitation is now confined to eastern Maine, and that, too, will be ending shortly. Clean-up efforts are now in full force in the wake of the storm, all the way down to parts of the Southeast and the Deep South. I'll show you two satellite images, first of the Southeast, then of the Northeast, where the sky is mainly clear, and you can see just how extensive the snow cover is right now:

There are some low clouds across northern West Virginia and into Pennsylvania, but most places south of there are bright and sunny, made all the more bright by the reflection of the sun off the fresh snow cover!

Out in the distance, there is this:

Those are the 6z Feb. 14 GFS ensemble 2-meter temperature anomalies forecast for next Thursday showing plenty of mild air from the southern Plains to the Southeast. Take careful note, though, that it has backed off on the same kind of warm anomalies across the Great Lakes into the Northeast. It will become somewhat milder in these areas, but the amount of warming looks to be sidetracked, partly because of the incredible snow pack that is in place!

So, how do we go from the bitter cold of earlier this week to some semblance of a hint of spring?

It won't be a smooth road for many, that's for sure. In some areas, though, it will be relatively quiet. For instance, the southern Plains and the Deep South will move into a warmer regime relatively seamlessly. After a front comes through tonight, with perhaps a little more snow in some of the northern reaches of Alabama and Georgia, the pattern will become much more tame. By Sunday afternoon, most places will be warming nicely under the strengthening February sun.

There will be another weakening cold front coming across the Tennessee Valley into the South Monday into Monday night, and there will be some showers associated with this front, but no snow and no ice. And it will actually help to bring even milder air to bear for the middle of next week, leading to the anomalies you see above.

Now, once we get to Thursday afternoon and night, there may some trouble, as some of the modeling is hinting of a strong enough cold front to spark potentially severe thunderstorms. Here's the 0z Feb. 14 European model forecast for Thursday night next week:

The 12z GFS model isn't quite as robust with this idea, but it does show a front in roughly the same place at about the same time, so there is support for at least some trouble during the second half of next week.

If there are rough spots in this lead-up to a break in the long, cold winter, they will show up farther north, from the northern Plains and Midwest to the northern mid-Atlantic and New England. And the first rough patch will be that very same feature slicing across the Ohio and Tennessee valleys toward the mid-Atlantic coast this afternoon and tonight. As it comes across Kentucky, there will be several inches of snow, potentially upward of 6 inches in eastern sections of the state into the mountains of West Virginia.

The other area of concern with this storm will be southeastern New England up into Maine, as the storm, once moving off the Virginia Capes tomorrow morning, will deepen explosively later tomorrow and tomorrow night as it rolls by Cape Cod. The NAM model is farther east with the storm track than the GFS, and it mirrors the European model storm track. If, however, the GFS is close to being right, then another heavy snowfall can be expected from this storm. Here is its forecast of precipitation through late Saturday night:

Regardless of snow amounts, it will get cold behind it. Then a weaker disturbance will slice across the Midwest tomorrow afternoon, then into the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley tomorrow night with some light, nuisance-type snows. It will fade as it comes across the Appalachians into the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states, but by Monday morning, arctic high pressure will be in place:

You can already see the next system moving into the Midwest by then, and it will generate snow in Minnesota and Wisconsin. As the storm moves farther east on Monday, it will try to pull some of the warmer air in from the southern Plains, but there will be plenty of resistance, and that means snow and potentially some ice over northeastern Ohio into central and northern Pennsylvania, as the cold air just won't be able to get out of the way fast enough with this quick-moving storm. This will move into New England in weakened form Monday night.

Now, as we go to Tuesday, the west winds underneath the storm won't have icicles attached to them, and the day will be normal to a little above normal from the Ohio Valley to the mid-Atlantic states, though the real mild air will be held in check farther south:

The rest of the week will feature a lack of arctic air in most of the country, but as these disturbances keeping crashing into the Northwest and move over the northern Rockies, there will be several opportunities for unsettled weather, one of them being a stronger storm cutting across the Great Lakes on Thursday with that cold front moving across the Ohio and Tennessee valleys. My gut feeling is it will pull milder air farther north than the current GFS ensembles are anticipating. However, if you want unchecked warming, head farther south through Virginia into the Carolinas, where 60s will show up next week, including some 70s in the Southeast and in much of the Deep South.

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.