Potent storm system to unload heavy snow across northeastern US
Residents of the northeastern United States are preparing for a strong and potentially disruptive storm that could deliver up to a foot of snow, heavy rain and fierce winds through Tuesday, AccuWeather meteorologists say.
Despite the calendar showing a mid-April date, heavy, accumulating snow is forecast to spread across many interior portions of the Northeast during Monday night and Tuesday, and the snow is likely to cause travel disruptions, particularly in the mountains from West Virginia to northwestern New England.
Winter weather advisories stretched from West Virginia to parts of New England on Monday while winter storm warnings were in place from northeastern Pennsylvania through much of interior New York.
"A strengthening storm along the mid-Atlantic coast, combined with an approaching cold front, will bring another punch of wintry weather to the Northeast and New England early this week," said AccuWeather Meteorologist Adam Sadvary.
Already-fallen snow totals thus far were above 5.5 inches or above in several cities, including Blue Knob Mountain, Pennsylvania (8.2 inches of snow as of 7 p.m. EDT) as well as Frostburg, Maryland (6 inches as of 2:20 p.m. EDT) and Breezewood, Pennsylvania (5.5 inches as of 5:20 p.m. EDT).
Rain will continue to spread northward along the coast with a wet Monday evening rush hour for New York City as thunderstorms rumble in southeastern Virginia and eastern North Carolina, forecasters say. Areas of snow and rain spread northward from the central Appalachians to part of the Midwest. Snow began to cover roads in portions of western Maryland, northeastern West Virginia and northern Virginia on Monday, AccuWeather Senior On-Air Meteorologist Just Povick said.
"With unseasonably chilly air already in place ahead of the arrival of these systems, atmospheric conditions will be favorable for the return of snow across interior portions of the region, especially for higher elevations such from the Alleghenies, Poconos and Catskills to the Adirondacks and Green and White Mountains," Sadvary said. Not only is snow on the way for these mountain areas, but the snow will pile up and bring a heavy accumulation.
As temperatures drop from Monday night to Tuesday, snow will become more widespread across the region as it spreads from the Ohio Valley to northern New England. Record-low temperatures Monday were recorded in several northeastern cities; including Binghamton, New York (23 degrees F), and Reading, Pennsylvania (27 degrees).
A band of wet, heavy snow will set up over eastern and north-central Pennsylvania, upstate New York and northwestern New England. This wall of snow has the potential to produce snowfall rates of up to 2 or even 3 inches per hour that can cling to trees and power lines and raise the risk of large limbs bending and breaking. Power outages and blocked roads could become extensive over the higher terrain.
"Snowfall rates this high will can lead to rapidly deteriorating road conditions," warned Sadvary. Despite the snow falling so late in the season, an accumulation on some roads is likely, and that can lead to wintry travel conditions over the higher elevations.
Despite being over a month into spring, AccuWeather forecasters say many folks in the interior Northeast and parts of the central Appalachians will likely be waking up to snow on the ground by Tuesday morning. Throughout the day on Tuesday, snow and rain will continue to be confined to interior areas from Pennsylvania and Ohio to Maine.
"Portions of northeastern Pennsylvania and central and eastern New York could end up with a half a foot of snow," said Sadvary. Even places such as Burlington, Vermont; and State College, Pennsylvania; are forecast to receive anywhere from 1-3 inches from this storm.
"The highest totals, however, will be limited to the highest elevations of the Endless Mountains, Catskills and Adirondacks, where up to a foot or more can accumulate with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 24 inches," Sadvary added. Gusty easterly winds will allow warm air to sweep in from the Atlantic Ocean over much of New England and may prevent more than 6 inches of snow from falling on all but the highest elevations of Vermont and New Hampshire.
Although this spring snow could be surprising for some, it's not entirely unusual.
"Even though the sun tends to warm the ground substantially during the spring, it is actually easier for snow to fall in the spring, rather than during the autumn," explained AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. With cold air in the upper levels of the atmosphere and below-average road temperatures, if the snow comes down hard, it is likely to stick, despite the time of year.
Meteorologists say those planning to travel through these areas on Monday night and Tuesday should allow some extra time on the trip due to possible inclement conditions. Not only can the snow make some roads slippery and snow-covered in the higher elevations, but the visibility in the heaviest snow can become extremely low and dangerous for motorists traveling at highway speeds.
Since winds are forecast to flip from the east and southeast to the west with the storm, the system may not fit the mold for a true nor'easter. A nor'easter typically brings an extended period of winds from the northeast.
Strong winds are still anticipated and can bring added hazards to parts of the region. Gusts across Long Island and the southern New England coast may potentially reach between 50 and 60 mph with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 70 mph.
Winds will also be particularly gusty along the mountains of West Virginia and Pennsylvania as well as along Lake Erie's southeastern shore into Monday night. The Adirondacks and the Green and White Mountains could also have a period of high winds on Monday night and Tuesday.
Temperatures will take a major plunge as well due to this potent storm. Lows will be in the 30s for most of the region on Monday night, with 40s forecast along the Atlantic coast.
After New York City hit 73 degrees Fahrenheit on Saturday, over 10 degrees above average for this time of year, the storm is forecast to prevent temperatures from rising past the lower 50s instead through Tuesday. Some spots in the interior Northeast could fail to surpass 40 F in the afternoon.
For people fretting over the weather whiplash early this week, warmth typical of spring will make a strong comeback in a few days.
Most cities across the Northeast will experience a substantial warming trend by the end of the week. Friday could finally seem like a true spring day for many, with 70-degree temperatures and partly sunny skies creeping northward into Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
High pressure is forecast to regain control of the region over the weekend with this spring weather returning, but cooler and wetter conditions could be just around the corner next week.
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