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Snow, rain to kick off 1st days of spring in northeastern US

By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
March 17, 2018, 6:15:34 AM EDT

There may be another winter storm for parts of the Northeast during the first few days of Spring 2018.

The setup for the middle and latter part of next week is familiar when comparing prior storms this month.

One storm will first track out of the Rockies and into the Midwest early next week. Next, during the middle to latter part of next week, a new storm will then form along the Atlantic coast and track northeastward.

Snow Northeast 3.17 AM

However, the jet stream will be farther to the south next week when compared to the first half of March. This difference in the jet stream pattern will prevent the storm from becoming as strong as the previous three nor’easters this month.

The track of the Midwest storm will also be another key factor in determining how much rain versus snow falls along the coast, in the I-95 corridor and areas farther inland.

A stronger storm would allow milder air to push farther to the north and east, resulting in more rain and little, if any accumulating snowfall along the coast with heavier snow inland.

Might this be the big snowstorm of the season for the central Appalachians, interior mid-Atlantic?

There is the potential for this cold air to hold its ground over the interior mid-Atlantic and New England for an extended period of snow and/or wintry mix.

If the storm moving in from the Midwest initiates heavy snow and then hands off to a storm along the coast, then there may be a 24- to 36- hour period of snow in some locations.

Areas from near Washington, D.C., to Harrisburg and State College, Pennsylvania, to Hagerstown, Maryland, and Martinsburg, West Virginia, have escaped the single, big snowstorm so far. However, there is a chance just as spring begins.

Travel slowdowns, cancellations likely

There are may be significant impacts on travel and daily activities with the storm.

An intense storm with high winds is not needed to bring a foot or more of snow to some locations, especially over the interior.

Airline passengers should expect flight delays to increase as next week progresses with possible flight cancellations. The commute on one or two days next week may be hampered by wet or wintry precipitation. Enough snow may fall to cause school delays, early dismissals or postponement of classes entirely.

Static Second Half of March

There is a chance of snow of a stripe of snow over the Ohio Valley that may broaden in the Northeast. However, it may be a matter of timing for any accumulation on roads in this swath with the storm next week.

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As many people have noticed, it must snow very hard during the day to accumulate on streets and highways in urban areas during March.

Because of the complex nature of the storm, the exact timing of the heaviest precipitation, day versus night, may not be revealed until late this weekend in the Midwest and early next week in the Northeast.

There is the risk of strong winds

In terms of the strength of the wind and extent of power outages and coastal flooding, there is a risk of strong enough winds to cause more problems with this storm from the upper part of the mid-Atlantic coast through New England.

Static AP New England Power Line Repair

Workers remove a fallen tree from a road and repair power lines during a winter storm, Tuesday, March 13, 2018 in Norwell, Massachusetts. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

How significant the problems are will depend on how much and how quickly the coastal storm develops.

If the coastal storm is slow to develop and waits until it reaches the Maine coast, much of the region may be spared the worst of the wind and tidal problems.

If the coastal storm strengthens quickly and takes over as the main storm at a fast pace, then it is more likely to tap the cold air sitting nearby to the north and bring more of a substantial wind and snow event for New England and perhaps the upper mid-Atlantic region.

This quick development would be in response to a similar jet stream setup that reverts to the prior storms during March.

Regardless, the timing of this storm will be out of sync with the new moon, which is this weekend. Astronomical tides are higher within a couple of days of the new and full moon.

AccuWeather will continue to provide updates on the storm strength, track and timing in the coming days.

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