Santa could have a special treat in his bag for millions of people in the Northeast, just in time for Christmas.
A snowstorm could affect part of the mid-Atlantic and New England during the Christmas weekend.
While rain is the most likely form of precipitation from the heart of the I-95 cities from Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia and New York City, the scale is tipped toward snow over the interior Northeast.
Farther north along I-95 from Boston to Portland, the odds shift from a wintry mix to all snow.
The greatest potential for snow includes I-81, I-84, I-87, I-91 and part of I-80 corridors.
While such a storm would be a delight for young and young-at-heart Christmastime snow-lovers, it could pose significant travel problems around the holiday.
This is not the same storm that delivered a blizzard over part of the southern and central Plains early this week. Rather a new storm over the northern Pacific Ocean will take a southward dip to Texas later this week and will then streak northeastward during Christmas Eve.
A weaker system will run between both storms with rain in the Southeast, much of the mid-Atlantic and southern New England on Friday. However, snow or a wintry mix is favored in northern Pennsylvania and central New England.
A key ingredient for the Christmas snowstorm will be the arrival of fresh cold air late in the week. Cold air that recently moved into the region over the weekend with the coldest daytime highs of the season so far for many areas is on the retreat during much of this week.
As long as the cold air arrives just before the storm's arrival and the storm takes the ideal path along the coast of the mid-Atlantic and New England, several inches of snow would fall in a heavily-populated and heavily-traveled swath north and west of I-95.
It seems only if the storm tracks inland of the coast would more rain erode farther north and west, spoiling the snowstorm. There is also a chance the cold air pushes more to the southeast, driving a weaker storm off the coast.
The timing of the storm appears to be 12 to 24 hours slower than previously thought.
The bulk of this supposed snowstorm would hit Christmas day in the mid-Atlantic and on to Christmas night in New England.
Interestingly, the upper-level disturbance associated with the storms could also put down a bit of snow over the Great Lakes and the Ohio Valley, perhaps as far west as Chicago during Christmas Eve.
This story was originally published on Dec. 19, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. EST.
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