A new storm will develop Thursday night, tracking from the Mid-Mississippi Valley all the way through the interior Northeast. This remains a difficult forecast because there is uncertainty on where exactly the center of low pressure will track. What we know right now, however, is that some locations will receive over one foot of snow, while other locations may deal with significant icing, especially in the interior Northeast.
Starting Thursday, showers will begin to stream in from the Gulf of Mexico due to a southerly flow, affecting much of the east. This precipitation is actually associated with the storm that will bring snow to the Midwest on Thursday. As we get into the overnight hours, a secondary area of low pressure will form over the Southeast, likely centered around Mississippi. It is this low that will wreak havoc and cause widespread snow and ice for portions of the US. As the low begins to develop, we’ll see snow and freezing rain break out from portions of Arkansas up through the Chicago area and into Michigan.
As the low tracks to the north and east, a strong Arctic high will drop down into the Central US, ushering in freezing air. Between that high and the low pressure, there’s going to be a battleground for all types of precipitation: rain, sleet, freezing rain, and snow. On Friday, freezing rain is possible from western New York into Ohio, and southward into Mississippi. That’s where there will be a thin layer of warmer air just above the freezing surface. That tongue of warmer air will allow for the snow to melt into rain, subsequently freezing on contact at the surface. As colder air works in, locations on the western extent of the precipitation will change over to snow as freezing air dominates the entire air column. Snow is even possible as far south as central Mississippi with this storm. In the above-freezing locations for most of the Southeast up through northern New England, rain is in the forecast.
The low will begin to deepen Friday night, with precipitation becoming more organized. From Southern New England through the Mid-Atlantic and into the Carolinas, it will be raining. To the west, we will see wintry precipitation with the colder air. In the Northeast, there is the potential for a significant freezing rain event. This includes northern New England, much of New York state, and northern Pennsylvania. All of these locations have the potential for at least 0.25-0.5 inches of ice accumulation. To the south and west, heavy snow is possible near the center of low pressure from Lower Michigan, into Indiana and Ohio, southward to Kentucky and Tennessee, and possible as far south as northern Alabama and Georgia.
Then as we get into Saturday, much of the rain will clear out of the East Coast, although Southern New England will remain wet during the morning hours. Southern New England is also an area to watch for flooding. A widespread one to three inches of rain is forecast to fall in the region on top of the snow cover. For the remainder of the Northeast, we’ll see much of the freezing rain changeover to a light to moderate snow. The only exception is across inland Maine, where the freezing rain may have some staying power. Meanwhile over the Ohio Valley, there will be a few lingering snow showers on the backside of the low.
The storm will clear out Saturday night, and on Sunday, we’ll see the return of lake-effect snow to the Great Lakes.
We are still at least 36 hours away from the start of this event, so keep in mind the details in this forecast for some locations will likely change. We are feeling confident that some locations in the Ohio Valley will get slammed with over a foot of snowfall on Friday. Where exactly will that be still remains a question, but it will likely be somewhere in the pink area of our map below.