Significant snow, ice threat looms in northeastern US on Presidents Day weekend

By Kyle Elliott, AccuWeather meteorologist
February 15, 2018, 10:41:52 AM EST

You will be redirected momentarily to the latest on the weekend snowstorm.

Following a taste of spring late this week, residents from the Virginias to New England should be wary of a significant winter weather threat this weekend.

After cooler air returns to the East on Friday, a storm system will form in the Deep South and move northeastward along the boundary separating colder air to the north from springlike air across the Southeast.

The exact track of the storm will determine which locations will receive the heaviest snow and those that will get a mix of snow, ice and rain.

The bulk of the storm is likely to occur from Saturday to Saturday night.

There are two main potential storm tracks. Both, and options in between, would have major implications on weekend holiday travel plans.

Northeast Storm Scenarios 5 am Wed static

“The first scenario is for the storm to track close to the Northeast coast and strengthen quickly, bringing heavy precipitation to much of the Northeast and New England,” said AccuWeather Meteorologist Ryan Adamson.

“This would likely favor snow in New England and the interior mid-Atlantic, with mixed rain and snow along the Interstate-95 corridor from New York City to Washington, D.C.,” he added.

In this case, the heaviest snowfall would stay north and west of the big cities, with the greatest travel impacts felt along the corridors of interstates 76, 80, 81 and 90.

“The second possibility is that the storm does not strengthen until it is well offshore and takes a track farther to the south,” Adamson added.

New England and much of the interior Northeast would be spared from a significant snowfall if this were to happen.

Static US Weekend

This graphic shows the most likely scenario, an average of the two options, for snowfall in the northeastern United States this weekend.

However, a significant snowfall may occur in the major cities along the I-95 corridor with rain or a mixture of rain and snow from central Virginia to the Delmarva Peninsula and Tidewater regions in this case, Adamson warned.

A strong push of colder air on Friday and Saturday would be necessary to suppress the storm system farther south and result in this second outcome.

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AccuWeather Winter Weather Center

At this point, the first scenario appears more likely than the second, with the greatest impacts from central Pennsylvania through interior portions of New York and New England.

"At this time, we do not foresee a blockbuster snowstorm for any location with the storm, but rather a 6-12 hour period of snow that may leave behind several inches," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. "The band of moderate snowfall may only be 100 miles or so wide from the central Appalachians to New England."

Even where only a few inches of snow fall, it would be enough to cause airport delays and slippery roadways.

"The amount of sleet and freezing rain, if any, will depend on the depth of the cold air," Sosnowski said. "A thick layer of cold air would mean a greater chance of snow and perhaps some sleet, while a shallow layer of cold air near the ground would translate to a freezing rain scenario in a narrow zone."

Anyone with travel plans this weekend should monitor the latest updates from AccuWeather meteorologists and be prepared for significant travel delays and dangerous conditions on both primary and secondary roads, especially spanning Saturday night during the storm and Sunday morning soon after its departure.

The overall weather pattern beyond this storm will transition to one that brings May-like warmth to the East and cold, unsettled conditions to the West next week and possibly beyond.

Accompanying the warmer weather will be a swath from the southern Plains to the Northeast that is hit by several rounds of rain into next week, which may lead to incidents of flooding.

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