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    Widest Area of Snow So Far This Season

    12/18/2012, 7:39:32 AM

    Tuesday, 11:30 a.m.

    Up to this point in the cold season, snow has been quite limited. We had the nor'easter bring heavy snows to parts of the mid-Atlantic and New England not long after Sandy. More recently, we saw a storm over a week ago dump upwards of a foot of snow on parts of the Midwest. Aside from those two events, though, there really has not been any widespread snowstorm in the country, and it's one of the reasons why the snowcover charts are so blank.

    We are starting to fill in the holes in the Northeast, a bit across much of New York and Pennsylvania on south and west through the mid-Atlantic, Ohio Valley and Great Lakes; there's just nothing to show for the season-to-date:

    That's about to change.

    A storm is organizing over the southern Rockies now, one that will reform over southeastern Colorado, southwestern Kansas and the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles late tonight and early tomorrow. From there, it's 'game on' with the storm. It will move steadily northeastward tomorrow afternoon, reaching central Michigan by late Thursday. By the end of the day Friday, the center of low pressure will be somewhere between Burlington, Vt., and Ottawa. Eventually the low will end up in the Gulf of Maine Saturday night or early Sunday.

    There is plenty of cold air on the north side of the storm, and it will be growing colder with time. As the storm deepens, it will pull some of the arctic air over western Canada into its circulation. At the same time, the wind will be strengthening on the back side of the storm, so with snow and temperatures both falling, there's every reason to believe some places will end up in the 'blizzard' category from eastern Colorado and northern and western Kansas later tomorrow, all the way to Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan Thursday and Thursday night.

    The core of the area with snow will be in the 3-6 inch range, and that will include a significant portion of the plains of eastern Colorado to northern and western Kansas, southern Nebraska, Iowa, northwestern Illinois, southeastern Minnesota and Wisconsin. Northern sections of Lower Michigan and much of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Within the core of that will be an area with a solid 6 to 12 inches of the white stuff, likely centered on central and northeastern Iowa into northeastern Wisconsin. I'm still of the belief there will be higher totals around 15 or 16 inches, though the wind on the back side of the storm may make it hard to get the final tally truly accurate due to a lot of blowing snow.

    There will be less snow on the front side of the storm in the Northeast than there has been over the past 24 hours. There may be a few-hour period of ice mixed with snow in upstate New York and northern New England, but even in these areas there should be enough warming for plain rain.

    Once the storm passes, then the lake-effect snows will pick up as some cold air drills across the Great Lakes. That will begin Thursday night off Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, then spread eastward to Lake Erie, Lake Huron and eventually Lake Ontario Friday and Friday night, then linger into Saturday. Included within that will be some upslope snows into the mountains of West Virginia, western Pennsylvania and upstate New York.

    The air mass that settles in across the snowy places will not be bitter, but cold enough to keep the snow on the ground for the most part. There may be enough warming on the Plains to erase some of the snow, but I'm not sure all of it will be erased. Farther north and east, though, most places that get at least 2 inches of snow from this storm will have a white Christmas from the Midwest to the Northeast, as there appears to be little warming into early next week in these areas.

    There will be another storm next week, and it could mean snow on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day in parts of the Rockies and central and northern Plains.

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

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