Friday, 11:25 a.m.
You've watched those games, where one is up 17 over another with 5 minutes left to play in the fourth quarter, and the team with the lead has just pinned the other inside their ten. And the announcer says something to the effect that there's not much time left, and so-and-so needs to pick up the tempo and play with a sense of urgency. We all know that barring a miracle, the outcome is really not in doubt, but the announcers can't say that, as they have to keep interest in the game as long as possible.
I feel that way about this winter. Yes, it has snowed in Chicago overnight and this morning, with more than 6 inches in some of the north and northwest suburbs. There was some warm advection snow across the norther tier of Pennsylvania up into the southern tier of New York, and this same storm will dump some snow on the Adirondacks on into northern New England this afternoon and tonight. And yes, there will also be snow showers behind this storm over the next 24 to 36 hours around the Great Lakes into the Appalachians.
Aside from all that, let's face it. This has been a lopsided game right out of the gate, with the forces of cold getting dump trucked pretty much all winter long. Now we're seeing a growing cold air mass across Canada, and at least an opportunity for the cold to come south this weekend and next week. However, in the end, how and where will the cold intrusion be strongest? How much will get to the South and East? How long will it last? In the end, it's going to look a lot like the first three and-a-half quarters of the game. Most of the cold goes into the West, very little gets into the South and East and what does go to these latter areas just doesn't last long.
Take a look at a series of model snapshots for next week. I'll use the GFS here, but you can pretty much take your pick of any of the other medium range models, as it appears they're all reading from basically the same script. Here's the Monday morning forecast:
That little feature going by the Great Lakes will have far more of an impact on bringing warm air right back into the Midwest Sunday and across the Ohio Valley into the East Monday.
Now look at it for Wednesday:
That's a much more potent storm, not unlike the one we're seeing today crossing the eastern Great Lakes, only the model trend this week has been farther north. This means any snow associated with it is likely to remain across the northern Rockies and northern Plains into the Upper Midwest and maybe northern Great Lakes. To the south, another surge of warmth, rain and a high probability of severe weather.
Now look at Saturday morning, this from the view of the Canadian Model:
The European, to be honest, is farther south. Then again, it had the midweek storm much farther south a couple of days ago as well, and look where it is taking that storm now. The models' consensus, for now at least, is another cutting storm for the Great Lakes, more snow to the north and more rain and potential severe weather to the south.
Now look at the GFS ensemble seven-day means for next week:
After that, the models appear to want to move the polar vortex back to the north and west again, much as they did a month ago when the last cold push was at its high water mark. The latest European weeklies, for what it's worth, look like Valentine's Day all over again, with red splashed all across the maps for week two, ending March 11, week three, ending March 18, and week four, ending March 25. They could be wrong, and I don't trust them out that far, but there hasn't been much cold up to now, and there hasn't been any blocking. So it's hard for me to envision much cold going deep into March.
I see a coffin nearby, with a lid loosely fitted over the top of it, a bag of nails and a hammer. Hmmmm... Should I?
The next major winter storm will spread snow from the central and northern Plains later this weekend all the way to central and southern New England Sunday night and Monday.
A relatively weak storm will bring a few inches of snow through the Northeast later today into tomorrow. A stronger storm is in the works for Sunday and Monday.
The record warmth of yesterday may not be repeated in the next few days over the Plains and Rockies, but it will remain much milder than normal through Friday, with more mild weather returning next weekend.
The Blizzard of 2015 will wind down this afternoon and tonight, but it's only a small part of what is a cold and stormy weather pattern that will last into the middle of February.
A storm moving off the mid-Atlantic coast this afternoon will deepen rapidly tonight, generating blizzard conditions in parts of the Northeast. At the same time, record highs will be challenged over the Plains and eastern Rockies.
A major winter storm will bring heavy rain and snow through the East tonight and tomorrow, followed by a weaker storm later this weekend spreading snow from the Midwest to the mid-Atlantic.