Things are finally beginning to get interesting after a quiet start to the week. Today, some localized snow showers come to parts of the Northeast, especially NJ. The eastern half of the country continues to cool, nearing 20 degrees below average for early December and increasing chances for lake-effect snow. Finally, we’ll give you an update on the weekend storm that everyone has their eye on.

This is the Wednesday edition of your Morning Briefing. Let’s begin.

Localized Snow Showers for Parts of the Northeast Today:

  1. An inverted trough will move off the Mid-Atlantic coast today, causing some light snow showers for NJ and possibly SE PA.
  2. Snowfall will be light, with only 1-3″ expected for most of the affected area. However, locally higher amounts up to 5″ are possible.
  3. Light snowfall is also expected today for the Lower Great Lakes and Midwest, centered around VA and WV. They will see the highest totals, which will still only be up to 6″.
  4. Snowfall for these areas is expected to begin early this afternoon and continue into tonight. Snowfall rates are not expected to be high, meaning lighter snowfall and little accumulation.

A sneaky Norlun trough sets up the likelihood of some small snow showers today for NJ, with totals of up to 3″ possible for the area. These inverted troughs sometimes form just off the Mid-Atlantic coast, and can be hard to catch a couple days out. Along the trough’s axis, SE winds bring moisture of the relatively warmer ocean, while SW winds from land bring frigid arctic air. These two different air masses collide along this axis, usually producing frozen-type precipitation from strong instabilities. While these types of troughs have potential to bring heavy snowfall and high winds, this storm is not expected to bring more than a few inches to southern NJ. Meanwhile, snow showers may reach as far west from the coast as IL. A few heavier bands of snow are expected to take a quick shot over VA and WV, with 3-6″ possible. Snowfall in these areas is expected to be relatively light, with little accumulation. Snow is expected to begin to fall this afternoon and continue into tonight.

Below Average Temperatures Continue to Drop for the Eastern Half of the Country:

  1. By Thursday, temperatures will have dropped to 15-20 degrees below average for early December. This cooling trend will continue through the end of the week until the weekend.
  2. Frost and freeze warnings are likely for parts of the eastern third of the continental US by the end of the week.
  3. Incoming cold air will cause issues across the region, increasing chances for freezing rain threats tomorrow for TX and OK.
  4. Shots of cold air over the Great Lakes increase chances for lake-effect snow showers Thursday for the lower Great Lakes.

While high pressure dominates aloft over most of the country, cold-core low pressure systems have still managed to drop temperatures for most of the country. Noticeably colder temperatures continue to be felt, and this trend will likely continue. By Thursday, temperatures across the region are expected to drop to 15-20 degrees below average for early December. This kind of frigid cold will cause trouble for any areas with enough lift to cause precipitation. Storms that would otherwise be a small rain shower could bring snow or ice. TX and OK are both at high risk tomorrow for a dangerous ice storm with accumulations of freezing rain likely. A pool of warm air above incoming cold air means that originally frozen precip will melt in the warm pool and supercool again in the surface layer of freezing air. Once this supercooled water hits a surface, it freezes directly onto it, causing dangerously icy roads and icing shut doors and windows. For the Northeast, small surface disturbances will develop cold fronts, allowing more cold air into the area right into Friday. Cold shots over the Great Lakes increase chances for lake-effect snow tomorrow, likely dropping a few inches over the Lower Great Lakes.

Weekend Storm Update – Snowfall Likely from TX to VA:

  1. Models have yet to converge on one clear solution for this weekend’s storm; however, certain features point to more likely tracks and storm timings.
  2. It’s looking more and more likely that this storm will take a more southern track. This would cause moderate to heavy snow for the Mid-Atlantic states, with snow likely not quite reaching into the Northeast.
  3. A shift northward is not ruled out, meaning that parts of PA, NJ, NY, and CT could still see snowfall from this storm, likely on Monday or Tuesday.
  4. Still being 5 days out, there is high uncertainty with this storm’s track, timing, and intensity, so be sure to keep checking into WeatherOptics for any updates later this week.

Still being 5 days out, models have yet to converge on one solution for this weekend’s possible snow storm. However, looking at the jet placement and set up, we can gather more clues to what this weekend will look like. It’s beginning to look more likely that the storm will take a more southern path, hugging the Gulf coast before shooting over the FL panhandle and restrengthening just off the Carolina coast. In this case,  TX and OK could see moderate snowfall, with parts of southern TX getting heavy, possibly flooding, rain. On Sunday, the storm continues to move eastward, bringing snow to the Mid-Atlantic and southeastern Midwest. On this track, snow would likely not reach any further than VA and WV. However, any shift northward could bring snowfall up further, into NJ, PA, and parts of NY and CT by Monday. For now, we emphasize that small changes in timing and track could change the placement and intensity of this snowfall, as well as the rain that will occur further south.

You can subscribe to The Morning Briefing on the right-hand side of this article so we can send the Wednesday and Friday editions straight to your inbox. Be sure to confirm your subscription by clicking on the link sent to your email. Don’t see the confirmation email? Check your spam and other folders!

Also remember to lookout for The Sunday Storm this upcoming Sunday evening as well as Five Things to Watch This Week on Monday.


Kathleen is a Meteorologist at WeatherOptics, where she works writing content for the website, providing accurate and detailed forecasts to clients, and consulting on various meteorological projects. Kathleen earned her B.S. in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences in 2018 from Stony Brook University. Kathleen has also done research into our changing climate by investigating theRole of Atmospheric Rivers on Arctic Amplification in 2017.

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