Trend to colder weather may bring snow chance to Midwest, Great Lakes
AccuWeather meteorologists are keeping a close eye on back-to-back storms, and the second one of the duo may have some wintry tricks up its sleeves.
AccuWeather forecasters are monitoring the weather pattern, which has the potential to turn quite wintry by the middle of December. A pair of storms will slide across the Midwest to the Northeast this week, and the second of the duo will be accompanied by much colder air and has the potential to bring snow.
Cold air will take root over a portion of the North Central states this weekend in the wake of light to moderate snow in the region. The cold air will not advance much to the south and east until after another storm aims for the Midwest and Northeast during the first part of this week. Highs will be mainly in the 40s and 50s from the Ohio Valley to the Northeast with that early-week storm.
Without cold air in place, the first storm that is expected to track from the southern Plains on Monday to northern New England early Wednesday will produce mainly rain. A few patches of ice or a wintry mix can occur at the onset Tuesday night in parts of the central and northern Appalachians, but any accumulating snow is likely to be restricted to southeastern Canada.
The next storm will come along a day or two later and take a more west-to-east path. Early indications are that this second storm could follow a similar path as the first storm, but bring along with it a fresh round of colder air.
However, it's possible that the second storm may track farther to the south than the early-week storm. In one more southern scenario, the storm could travel from the southern Plains on Thursday to off the coast of North Carolina on Friday night.
“Getting snow to fall in the Midwest and Northeast in this volatile weather pattern is like trying to thread a needle between rounds of cold air coming from Canada and moisture coming from the West and Plains,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Bill Deger said. “There is a possibility in the mid- to late-week period that needle could be threaded, with a swath of travel-disrupting accumulating snow possibly occurring somewhere from the central and northern Plains and to New England and the interior mid-Atlantic.”
Temperatures will need to dip only into the mid-30s for snow to fall and to the lower 30s to the upper 20s for snow to accumulate.
AccuWeather meteorologists are examining a number of complex factors that may dictate the scope, location and amount of snow.
"One of the variables will be how far south and east Arctic air presses ahead of the storm," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Joe Lundberg said.
At this time, meteorologists say snow is most likely across the Midwest and the Great Lakes, where the coldest air is likely. A stripe of accumulating snow could stretch from Nebraska and Iowa to Wisconsin and Michigan as well as southern Canada. Cities in the Midwest that have at least a chance of a period of snow later this week include Omaha, Nebraska, Chicago and Detroit.
However, should enough cold air slice into the Ohio Valley and Northeast and hold on, then the storm could put down a swath of accumulating snow perhaps as far south as the zone from Illinois to Virginia, Maryland and Delaware late in the week. While a storm tracking very far south, could bring some snowflakes to major cities like Boston, New York City or even Washington, D.C., snowflakes are much more likely in the interior Northeast and northern New England.
It could come down to the strength of an area of high pressure at the jet stream level over the Gulf of Mexico and the strength of the storm, Lundberg and AccuWeather Chief On-Air Meteorologist Bernie Rayno explained.
"If that Gulf of Mexico high is too strong, it may prevent cold air from pushing far enough to the south in the first place," Lundberg said.
On the other hand, the storm could overcome a lack of cold air and trigger snow heavy enough to accumulate if the storm becomes fairly strong, according to Rayno. If the storm remains weak, then it may bring only a mix of rain and wet snow or non-accumulating wet snow, he explained.
At this point, the second storm is the one to watch for the chance of snow for a dozen states later this week. Those with travel or outdoor plans may want to stay tuned to the forecast due to the potential for temperatures to change with new data coming in, and that may play a role in precipitation types and amounts predicted.
"We are not expecting a huge amount of snow from the storm later in the week in any case, but there could be enough accumulation to slow travel in some areas, should all the pieces fall into place," Rayno said. The biggest question at this point is how far north or south the snow zone will set up.
Wintry weather from the storm will not be the only impact that could be disruptive. Widespread rain could also cause delays and issues.
"No matter what precipitation type befalls areas from the Midwest to the Northeast, it looks like a wet and unsettled week is ahead in a corridor stretching farther south from the lower Mississippi Valley into the Tennessee Valley," Deger said. "Multiple rounds of rain could total several inches in this area and lead to some flooding, but any rain would be largely beneficial due to ongoing drought conditions."
Should the storm end up being on the stronger end of the spectrum, thunderstorms that occur in the warmer air could potentially become robust to locally severe.
Beyond this week, cold air is likely to plunge even farther south next weekend to early in the following week. A sizable storm is likely to develop as cold air dives southward. However, the position of the jet stream dip associated with the cold wave may determine if that storm tracks well inland, along the Atlantic coast or out to sea -- a factor that will determine where snow may fall and how much can be expected.
Early indications are that following a press of colder air around mid-month that milder air may take over in the days prior to Christmas in the eastern half of the nation.
AccuWeather will continue to provide more information on the precipitation type and temperatures associated with the upcoming storms in the coming days.
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