Northwest Snowstorms to Reach Midwest, East, California

January 18, 2012; 12:05 PM
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The series of snowstorms hitting the Northwest have to go somewhere. Destination: Midwest and East.

Winter will make up for lost time through the end of the month over the northern third of the nation.

Now that cold air has made a stand along the United States/Canada border and warmth holds over the southern U.S., the energy is there for an active storm track from west to east across the nation during the next couple of weeks.

While the pattern also means the hard-hitting storms in the Northwest will weaken in general crossing the nation, they will be frequent and will offer snow and ice for northern areas and needed rain opportunity for southern locations.

One out of three or four of these storms can be strong enough to bring more than just nuisance wintry precipitation.

Essentially, some sort of precipitation event will swing through Central and Northern states every other day.

A piece of the storm hitting Seattle today will race across the northern Plains on Wednesday producing a zone of light, but windswept snow.

This little feature can bring a coating of snow to Detroit and other areas around the Great Lakes on Thursday. The same system can bring a bit of snow and flurries to part of the Northeast during Friday.

Another system will climb out of the Rockies later in the week spreading a swath of snow eastward over portions of the central and northern Plains Friday to the Great Lakes area Friday night.

This particular feature could bring several inches of snow along the way, even as it rolls into part of the Northeast on Saturday. And, the parade of storms will not stop there.

The same old players (warm air and cold air) will duel when it comes to the question of snow or rain in the central Plains, Ohio Valley and the I-95 Northeast. However, this pattern will offer the best opportunity for decent snow (in part) these regions have had all winter long.

While the cold presence this winter has been almost laughable, when compared to other winters, it only has to be near or just below the freezing mark (32 degrees) at a critical level in the atmosphere for snow and ice during all or part of a storm.

The storm track will broaden over time, spreading rain and mountain snow southward into California and snow over the Intermountain West.

The first of these storms will make an attempt at driving precipitation into California during Thursday and Friday. If it fails, several others that follow into next week may be more successful.

As these storms continue to move along to the east, they will grab some moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. As a result, more opportunities for rain exist from eastern Texas to the Carolinas and part of Florida through the end of the month.

Unfortunately, a couple of the storm systems will pack enough energy with them to raise the risk of severe thunderstorms.

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