East Coast December Snowstorm Situation

November 30, 2010; 8:10 AM ET
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Whether or not snowstorms come calling along the Atlantic Seaboard during the second week of December will depend on the speed of arctic air.

The overall weather pattern for the second week of December is looking mighty cold from the northern Plains to the Atlantic Seaboard. However, the fate of one or two potential snowstorms around the same time will depend on the push of that cold air in the East.

If arctic air lags a bit, it could open the door for one or two storms to swing up from the Gulf of Mexico, spreading a swath of coastal rain with inland and mountain snow over the Eastern part of the nation next week.

That is a big "if," as it seems the storms are more likely to take an easterly track out to sea, rather than make the big northward cut into the cold air, thanks to strong steering currents (jet stream) from the west and northwest.

"You can't have both a big blast of cold air and a big storm tracking northward at the same time," says Expert Senior Meteorologist John Kocet.

Kocet added, "One or the other usually gives way."

However, there is one interesting observation on early season cold waves in the East.

Often computer models blast cold air too quickly into the Atlantic Seaboard.

This model error could mean a storm track more up the East Coast, rather than a less-snowy track off the Southeast coast into the Atlantic.

In this case, steering currents would allow cold air to ooze in, while keeping the main steering currents from the southwest, hence allowing a Gulf Coast storm to take on the track of a traditional nor'easter.

Interestingly, even the more southerly track of one or two storms could still mean snow for part of the southern Appalachians and the South, as well as heavy lake-effect snow up north, and perhaps an Alberta clipper storm with light snowfall in part of the Ohio Valley and mid-Atlantic down the road.


It remains to be seen if the East Coast will get their snowstorm next week, or if people in the East will have to use a snow globe like this one to get a blizzard at their home. Photo by photos.com

The bottom line is that regardless of whether or not a big snowstorm is coming to the East next week, the pattern is going to turn colder, at least opening up more opportunities for snow and wintry precipitation during much of December.

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