Winter is not over, as two more storms and a cold blast will demonstrate next week in a large part of the U.S. in the form of travel problems and heating demand.
Temperatures will moderate in the Midwest this weekend, and in the wake of a storm today in the Northeast.
Winter is over, right? Wrong.
The "winter that just won't quit" will continue for at least another week as a modest and somewhat disjointed storm leads in a new charge of cold air early next week.
The first storm we speak of spread some snow over the northern Rockies and northern High Plains Friday. Well north of this storm, a new batch of arctic air was building and is getting ready to move southward, tailgating the storm like a Friday evening commuter.
Today, light snow will blanket the northern Plains and Rockies. The heaviest snow will target the mountains of Colorado through tonight, where accumulations could near one foot.
The white area on this map depicts a swath of a coating to an inch or two of snow. The feature will continue to shift to the southeast Sunday into more of the Plains and Midwest with flurries to a small amount of accumulating snow.
It is not so much that this snow will be so bad, but rather the freeze-up that follows the thaw and partially melted snow. This is a concern not only for the Plains, but also from the Midwest into parts of the East.
In the East, the first storm will be split into two parts with a southern batch bringing rain to the southern Atlantic Seaboard and perhaps a wintry mix into the southern Appalachians and the Piedmont Monday. The other part will push light, nuisance snow into the eastern Great Lakes and the mid-Atlantic Monday night into Tuesday.
It is not all powdered sugar though. There is a chance that this first storm will quickly strengthen and unload heavy snow on eastern New England at the last minute Tuesday morning, before heading out to sea.
Arctic Air Spreads Out Again
As we have seen before, and most recently this week, cold air will again spread over much of the nation next week, including the interior West, the Plains, Northeast and a good chunk of the South. The exceptions may be the immediate West Coast and much of the Florida Peninsula.
What the arctic press will do is arm the atmosphere with a huge temperature contrast over the Deep South. While this contrast is useless without a disturbance coming along, it appears there will be a strong disturbance at that time dropping southeastward through the Rockies.
The same setup has seeded more than one wrapped-up storm along the East Coast this winter, including thunder-snow events.
Watching for That Second Storm Next Week
The storm of great concern has not even formed yet, and if this were any other winter, we could probably disregard some of the tools we look at suggesting a major winter storm along the Atlantic Seaboard and in part of the South.
If this storm develops, it will begin as a swath of snow and wintry mix over the southern Plains and the lower Mississippi Valley Wednesday, then roll into the Southeast Wednesday night, and the Northeast Thursday.
The track and strength of this particular storm, if it indeed occurs, will determine precipitation type and intensity for tens of millions of people. And storm or not, more intense cold will empty out of the Arctic into much of the eastern two-thirds of the U.S.
For some areas, especially around the Great Lakes and the Northeast this could be the coldest air of the entire winter Friday into next weekend. We will have more later on what those low number will be.
Updates and separate story details will follow on next week's events. Keep checking in at AccuWeather.com for the latest.
There are some signs of an attempted pattern change later in February with a pullback of the cold and a northward shift in the storm track, which would mean a break for some people. However, the extent of that break is questionable at this time.
At least you do have the strengthening sun during February and March, presenting opportunities for melting and at least a mild or moderate day once in a while.
AccuWeather.com's Long Range Expert Joe Bastardi offers his insight on the rest of the winter in this interview last month.
In the meantime, you'll just have to take this winter and keep shoveling it along with the meteorologists.
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