Back-to-back storms to send rain, snow into Northeast
As an unsettled weather pattern sets up across the Northeast, back-to-back storms will bring snow and rain to the region through next week.
Two more storms are likely to unload snow over the interior Northeast through the middle of next week and deliver rain once more to the areas of the Interstate 95 corridor that are stuck in a snow drought. Travel disruptions from the rain and snow will be likely throughout the region, AccuWeather meteorologists say.
As storms take a break in California, a shifting jet stream pattern will favor larger, more moisture-packed storms in the Eastern states into next week. However, the track of those storms will ultimately determine where the boundary between rain and snow settles. For now, it appears that the boundary will be set up north and west of I-95 for the pair of storms.
Prior to the arrival of those storms, a separate system responsible for some rain in the mid-Atlantic dropped accumulating snow across portions of upstate New York and New England on Friday. Snow showers will also pivot across the eastern Great Lakes and the central Appalachians in the wake of that storm.
As for next week's activity, one storm will affect the region Sunday into Monday before the second system arrives right on its heels from Tuesday to Wednesday.
Snow from the early-week storm will actually break out over the central Plains Saturday night, then spread to portions of the Midwest on Sunday morning. The first flakes of snow in the East are likely to fall in parts of the mountains in West Virginia, western Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York state Sunday afternoon before spreading northeastward Sunday night and Monday.
"Enough snow to shovel and plow from the Sunday-to-Monday storm is likely to fall from northern Pennsylvania and upstate New York to northern and central Maine," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Bill Deger said. "The heaviest totals of over 6 inches should be confined to the Adirondacks, Catskills and mountains of northern New England."
For residents who live in that anticipated heavy snow area, it may be a good idea to prepare for power outages, according to AccuWeather forecasters.
Due to a lack of fresh cold air, it will tend to be wet, clinging snow across upstate New York and northern New England, and that may cause some damage to trees and power lines, AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson explained.
"For snow lovers in and near the big I-95 cities in the Northeast, it will be another disappointing storm, where umbrellas and raincoats will be the needed accessories, rather than snow boots and gloves," Deger added.
A key reason for the likelihood of rain with the Sunday-to-Monday storm, and probably the midweek storm, will be the failure of cold air to hold its ground. Arctic air is not necessary for snow, but there still needs enough fresh cold air that has some staying power. A good setup for snow along I-95 would be for a cold high pressure area to linger over northern New England or southeastern Canada.
"This time around, there is very little cold air to be had, mainly because the high pressure associated with the cold air will be displaced off the Northeast coast," Deger said. This setup will help usher in winds from the Atlantic Ocean and act to bring warmer air to the I-95 cities, once again keeping areas from Washington, D.C., to Boston from receiving any snow.
While the period of rain from the storm is not likely to last more than eight to 12 hours along I-95 from Sunday afternoon to Monday, it can be heavy enough to lead to ponding and poor visibility on area highways. Low cloud ceilings, fog and stiff winds can lead to airline delays at the major hubs during a busy part of the weekend and the start of the new workweek for millions of Americans.
Most of the rain will be over in Boston and areas farther southwest by Monday afternoon due to the fast-moving nature of the storm.
Colder air will flow in behind the storm on Monday. The quick cooldown may cause freeze-ups over the Appalachians Monday afternoon, but winds will help blow roads dry along the coast.
The second storm is likely to cause snow to break out over portions of the southern and central Plains late Monday afternoon and Monday night. Heavy snow may fall in Denver on Monday and in Oklahoma City by Tuesday.
"Even though this storm is likely to head northeastward and toward the Midwest with most of the snow north and west of the storm track, a spinoff storm could form along the mid-Atlantic coast," Anderson said.
A wintry mix of precipitation is expected across the interior mid-Atlantic and into parts of New England, away from the coast.
"There may be just enough cold air early on during this storm for precipitation to start as snow from the Philadelphia area to New York City and Boston on Wednesday," Anderson said. "However, strengthening winds from the ocean will likely bring a quick change to rain in this corridor."
Based on the projected track of the storm, the best chance for a few inches or more of snow will be from north of I-70 in the Midwest on Tuesday and across northern New England on Wednesday, with the snow there possibly lingering into Thursday.
If neither of these two storms ends up producing measurable snow (defined as 0.1 of an inch or greater), there is an excellent chance that the snow drought in New York City and other locations may reach record length.
In the Big Apple, the longest streak of days without 0.1 of an inch of snow or greater was 332 which ended on Dec. 15, 2020. The current streak is at 317 and counting and is currently fourth on the all-time list.
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