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Major storm may eye US East Coast during first week of 2018

By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
January 01, 2018, 1:31:17 PM EST

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Following a spell of dry weather along the Atlantic Seaboard early this week, a major storm is forecast to spin up just off the coast for the second half of the week.

Aside from very cold conditions, lake-effect snow near the Great Lakes, and leftover patches of snow and ice on the roads, good travel conditions are in store along the Atlantic Seaboard through Tuesday.

Midweek outlook 1.1 AM

However, a storm will brew over the western part of the Atlantic Ocean, within several hundred miles of the United States coast later Wednesday and Wednesday night.

"How close to the coast the storm tracks will determine how far west and how much snow falls," according to AccuWeather Long-Range Meteorologist Max Vido.

AccuWeather meteorologists believe the storm will rapidly strengthen as Arctic air remains in place. The strengthening storm will kick up strong winds and cause heavy seas along much of the Atlantic coast.

LateWeekStorm 12.31

In lieu of snow, the combination of increasing winds and lingering Arctic air will create brutally cold conditions along much of the Atlantic coast during Thursday and Friday. The cold air and blustery conditions will penetrate as far south as South Florida and the Bahamas.

Winds alone may be strong enough to cause airline delays at the major hubs in the Northeast from Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia, New York City and Boston during the latter part of this week.

"Because of the magnitude of the cold air, it is not a question of rain or snow for most areas from the Carolinas to Maine, but rather how much, if any snow will fall from the storm," Vido said.

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There is a chance for snow to fall on coastal areas of the Carolinas and New England, even if the storm remains a few hundred miles offshore.

The best chance of a few inches of snow in the Southern states is on easternmost North Carolina from Wednesday night to Thursday morning.

"Farther north, points of land that extend farthest to the east will have a much greater chance of receiving snow and any accumulation," Vido said.

These areas include, but are not limited to Long Island, New York and eastern New England.

In order for heavy snow to fall on the central and southern Appalachians, the storm would have to hug the coast.

A coast-hugging track would also bring heavy snow in the corridor from Richmond, Virginia, to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York City.

If the storm strengthens quickly and takes a more northward or northwestward track, then much of New England may be at risk for major travel delays related to a heavy snowfall, as well as substantial blowing and drifting snow.

At this time there is an elevated risk for a major snowstorm with blizzard conditions possible for a portion of the Maritime Provinces of Canada to end the first week of January.

AccuWeather will continue to provide updates on the storm and its direct and indirect impacts for the eastern part of the United States and Atlantic Canada in the coming days.

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