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Cold Blast, Snow Bring Festive Feel to Northeast

By By Dan DePodwin, meteorologist
December 21, 2011, 1:35:16 AM EST

A shot of snow and chilly weather will bring a more typical holiday-feel across the Northeast this weekend.

Snow Showers and Cold

Although residents of the Northeast have experienced warmer-than-normal temperatures to start the month of December, a quick cold spell is in store for the weekend. A fast-moving disturbance will bring some light snow to parts of the area.

This storm brought a coating to an inch of fresh snow to the Midwest on Friday night and will slide through the Great Lakes and the Interior Northeast into tonight. Although moisture will be lacking east of the Appalachians, a few flurries could fly along the I-95 corridor this evening.

This Alberta Clipperlike disturbance could bring an inch or two of snow to the higher elevations and typical snow belt regions of Michigan and Pennsylvania through tonight. Cleveland airport in Ohio has already picked up over 2 inches of snow through Saturday afternoon.

Nighttime lows will be the around the coldest of the season from Boston to Washington, D.C. with temperatures in the upper 20s. The core of the cold air will remain in northern New England and southern Quebec where lows will dip to near zero.

Ocean-Effect Snow to Impact Cape Cod

The storm system that will bring snow showers to the interior Northeast this evening will push off the coast tonight and intensify as it moves slowly northeast.

This developing storm is expected to produce a favorable setup for ocean-effect snow south and east of Boston, Mass. Areas that could have several inches of snow include, Chatham, Mass., Hyannis, Mass., and Nantucket.

Snow will develop this evening across the Cape as strong winds from the north funnel cold air over the relatively warm waters of the Atlantic and Cape Cod Bay. The large temperature contrast produces instability that enhances precipitation.

Ocean-effect snow bands will produce 2-4 inches of snow across the region tonight before tapering off on Sunday morning. Roads will be slick and snowcovered with temperatures below freezing. Those traveling on Sunday morning should allow extra time to get to their destinations.

Ocean-effect snow, while not uncommon on Cape Cod, occurs much less frequently than lake-effect snow downwind of the Great Lakes. This is because the best setup for ocean-effect snow is when the prevailing wind is from the north, a much more uncommon direction than the west or southwest wind usually associated with lake-effect snow.

A Look at the Upcoming Week

The end of the weekend will be cool but seasonable across much of the Northeast with snow winding down on Cape Cod. There could be a few lingering morning snow showers in the mountains of western Pennsylvania.


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The week will start out dry and cool but a weak cold front will bring some snow showers to the area on Monday night. Interior sections and northern New England will have another cold blast.

This fresh cold surge will set the stage for the possibility of more wintry weather across northern New England for the middle of the week. Warm air across the I-95 corridor will allow for just rain.

Another round of precipitation, some wintry, could impact the region by Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

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