The current jet pattern and setup will lead to a very active end of the week. The Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies continue to experience blizzard conditions today, while another surface cyclone develops Thursday and delivers heavy rain to the Lower Plains and most of the Southeast. When this system moves northward at the end of the week, it will be the weekend storm that could potentially have impacts for the Northeast, which will be warmer after a light snow and system passage tonight.

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

Blizzard Conditions for Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies Today:

  1. Blizzard conditions can be expected today over the Cascade and Northern Rocky Mountains as a strong winter storm dumps nearly 2 feet of snow over the area.
  2. In higher elevations, accumulations are expected to be 18-48″, while lower elevations can still expect 8″ by the end of the day.
  3. Strong Wind gusts of 60 mph are likely today, exacerbating already bad visibility, and making traveling conditions extremely dangerous.

Significant snow began falling over the Pacific Northwest yesterday afternoon, and has spread over into the Northern Rockies. Mountain snow of almost 2 feet is expected to accumulate due to incredibly amounts of moisture within this storm. In lower lying areas, heavy snowfall of up to 8″ can still be expected by the end of the day today. High winds will gust close to 60 mph, making any heavy snowfall become near white-out conditions. People traveling over the Cascades today are advised to take extreme precaution, and to be sure to have chains on your tires for traction. Limited visibility in blizzard conditions will also be a hazard with this storm, so stay off the roads if you can.

Another System Develops Thursday, Possible Flooding and Thunderstorms for TX and Southeast:

  1. A strong surface cyclone will form Thursday night over the High Plains, and move across the country this week, eventually becoming the next weekend storm to look out for.
  2. Moisture from the Gulf of Mexico will provide moisture for heavy rains and possible flooding throughout the Southern Plains and Southeast.
  3. 1-3″ of rain is expected, with possible isolated thunderstorms increasing local totals.
  4. High wind warnings have already been issued for the High Plains Thursday, where gusts of 30-40 mph, and even 65 mph in some places, are to be expected.

An anomalous upper-level cut-off low will be the next strong system we see move across the country this week. Cyclogenesis over the High Plains tonight will result in a strong circulation that will travel from the central to eastern US by the end of the week. Heavy rain is expected with this storm, with moisture readily available from the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf coast can expect 1-3” of rain, with isolated thunderstorms increasing local totals. At the end of the week, this system will turn northward, becoming the next weekend storm to keep your eye on.

Light Snow Tonight – Then, Weekend Storm Likely to Impact Ohio Valley, Mid-Atlantic, and Parts of the Northeast:

  1. Tonight into tomorrow, a passing system will bring light snow to parts of Upstate NY and the lower Great Lakes off Lake Ontario. Only up to 2″ is expected, but this system’s passage will allow for warmer temps to move into the area for the end of the week.
  2. A strong storm system will develop over the High Plains Thursday, and by the end of the day Friday, shift it’s track northward to set aim for the Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic. Parts of the Northeast could see some showers, but it’s more likely at this point that most precip stays further south.
  3. Rainfall is expected to be moderate to heavy, with isolated thunderstorms and flooding possible for the region throughout the weekend.
  4. There is still a large amount of uncertainty with this storm’s track and timing, especially for the latter half of the weekend. Stay tuned for any updates from the WeatherOptics team!

The same system that will affect the Southeast at the end of this week will follow flow, turning northeastward by the end of the day Friday. While timing and track are not certain, clues within the atmosphere can tell a story of what could possibly happen. It is looking less likely with every model run that this storm will reach very far northward, just like last week’s storm. Parts of NY, NJ, and CT could see some rain from this system, but likely the bulk of it will end up around the Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic. With heavy Gulf moisture, flooding and flash flooding from heavy rain is possible. Precip in this system will likely be mostly precip, due to slightly warmer temperatures for the East this week. We will continue to update you on this storm system as more information comes in, so stay tuned!

For a more detailed analysis of tonight’s light snow threat, be on the lookout for an update from the WeatherOptics team tonight!

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. 

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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