Snow for Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, NYC, Boston

By By Dan DePodwin, meteorologist
January 21, 2012, 4:12:16 AM EST

Snow shovels will be required from the Plains to the Northeast to close out the workweek and begin the weekend.

A fast-moving, but moist storm system threatens to bring the biggest snow of the winter so far to cities including Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Hartford and Boston. Farther south, warmer air will lead to a wintry mix in part of the New York City metro area, but a few inches of snow will greet people in the northern and western suburbs.

Plains, Midwest, Ohio Valley Impacts

The storm set to cause wintry trouble delivered snow, ice and rain to the Northwest Thursday and is rapidly advancing eastward across the Plains and Midwest.

A fluffy, powdery snow is expected due to fresh arctic air that poured into the region.

By this afternoon, the storm will begin to gather strength as it interacts with a strong temperature gradient across the Midwest. This will increase snowfall rates and, thus, accumulations.

A swath of 3-6 inches is anticipated from southern Minnesota to Chicago and into the northern Ohio Valley through this evening.

Cities that will experience poor travel conditions today include Minneapolis, Minn., Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Madison, Wis., Chicago, Ill., and Detroit, Mich.

Later this evening, snow should spread over the eastern Ohio Valley and push into the Northeast.

The heaviest snow is currently forecast to fall from far northern Indiana through central Pennsylvania where up to 8 inches is possible in a few areas.

The snow from around Chicago to Allentown, Pa. can come down at an inch per hour pace for a few hours. Poor visibility and slick roads will result.

Other than snow, a mix of snow, sleet, and freezing rain could create icy conditions tonight along the Ohio River. The snow may change to sleet for a time as far north as Indianapolis, Ind., and Columbus, Ohio.

While the sleet and freezing rain would cut down on total snow accumulations, it could put a dangerous glaze on roadways.

As the storm pushes into the Northeast late tonight, snow will taper off from west to east across the Midwest and Ohio Valley by Saturday morning.


A larger version of this map is available on's Winter Weather Center.

Second Snow in Three Days for the Northeast

When it snows, it pours. Something like that.

For portions of the Upper Midwest and the Northeast, this will be the second round of accumulating snow in three days, a sort of entree to the appetizer. But, for many areas this may be the most disruptive of the two.

The coastal Northeast will have the best travel conditions early tonight before snow spreads over the region.

Snow will spread eastward across Pennsylvania, much of New York State and western Maryland late tonight.

The swath from Philadelphia to New York City will have snow beginning during the wee hours of the morning.

Wintry weather will then continue to overspread central and southern New England over the balance of Saturday morning. The accumulating snow with this particular storm will likely swing south of northern upstate New York, northern Vermont, northern New Hampshire and central and northern Maine.

Saturday will be a messy day across much the balance of the Northeast with a plethora of wintry weather.

Several inches of snow are expected north of I-80 including the cities of Albany, N.Y., Hartford, Conn., Providence, R.I., and Boston, Mass. However, it may still be slippery ride along the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Farther south, the forecast hinges on the exact track of the low pressure center and how much warm air will infiltrate the region, leading to a wintry mix or even a change to rain.

Sleet and freezing rain will try to mix with snow just south of I-80 from around New York City into central Pennsylvania. However, in portions of this zone, where cold air holds its ground and a changeover does not occur, a heavier snowfall is possible.

Around Philadelphia south, southerly winds should erode the cold air enough to allow a change to rain, but not before a burst of accumulating snow.

From northwestern Virginia to central Maryland, around Baltimore and Washington, D.C. and on to central New Jersey, a wintry mix prior to a change to all rain can lead to slippery travel for a time.

Snow should taper off Saturday afternoon and evening from west to east across the Northeast as the storm races out to sea.

A Warmup on the Way

Unlike some snowstorms, arctic air will not invade the area Sunday. In fact, a warming trend is expected Sunday into the first part of the workweek as winds from the south transport warmer air into the area.

The next chance of unsettled weather is expected across the Northeast and Ohio Valley Sunday night into Monday although most of the precipitation should be rain. However, wind-whipped snow could buffet areas from northern Iowa to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with that particular storm.

Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski contributed to the content of this story.

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