We’ve made it to the last full week of 2018, and Mother Nature has some tricks up her sleeve this Christmas week. We’ll discuss in this week’s 5 Things to Watch.

Northeast Snow Showers:

Many in the Northeast are waking up to snow on this Christmas Eve in the Northeast as a disturbance passes through the region, bringing a light accumulation of snow north and west of the I-95 corridor. The main area of action has been closer to the Great Lakes, with additional snow expected through Christmas morning. Up to half a foot of snowfall is in the forecast in some towns near Lakes Erie and Ontario, which may lead to tricky travel right before the holiday. A white Christmas is definitely likely across this region as well as northern parts of New England.

White Christmas?

Only about a fifth of the nation is currently covered in snow. With no organized storm system forecast to impact the nation before Tuesday, those without snow on the ground now will likely not see snow on the ground Christmas morning, unfortunately. Those in the intermountain West and parts of the Upper Midwest, Great Lakes region, and Northeast, however, will get lucky with a white Christmas.

Credit: NOAA

Major Winter Storm:

An innocent-looking storm currently moving into the central West Coast now will slowly track toward the Plains, which is when it will dramatically evolve into a major winter storm for the central US mid- to late- week. This storm will begin to get its act together on Wednesday as the low pressure intensifies on the leeward side of the Colorado Rockies, an area often known for low pressure formation or intensification. It will then track across the central Plains then into the Midwest, bringing a strip of heavy snow likely from eastern Colorado through the Dakotas and into much of Minnesota and Wisconsin. Since the exact track of this low pressure is still not set in stone, however, any wobble in this track will shift the heaviest axis of this snow. What we do know at this time is that some locations may receive near 2 feet of snowfall and a rather large region may experience blizzard conditions.

ECMWF model image of forecast pressure and precipitation type on Thursday

Stay tuned for more information.

Severe Weather:

The same storm system that will bring heavy snow and blizzard conditions to parts of the central US will also be responsible for severe weather during the latter half of this week. This threat will ramp up on Wednesday as the low pressure ejects into the Plains, fueling the risk for severe thunderstorms (containing damaging winds) and tornadoes in much of Texas. That threat will then shift to the east, becoming centered over southern Louisiana. Severe weather is difficult to forecast days in advance, so continue to monitor the weather outlook for additional details.

Round of Mild Air:

Ahead of a digging trough of low pressure originating from the West will be a large area of mild air, containing temperatures up to 25 degrees above average. The central part of the US will get to experience that warmth through Wednesday or Thursday ahead of the winter storm before that reprieve from the cold reaches the East Coast for Friday and Saturday. It is the middle of the winter, however, so actual high temperatures will only be in the 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s depending on latitude.

From the WeatherOptics team, happy holidays!


Jackson is Head of Content and Social Media at WeatherOptics. He is currently a student at the University of Miami, studying Meteorology and Broadcast Journalism. Dill produces forecast articles for the website and helps to manage the content schedule. He has also led the growth of WeatherOptics’ social media accounts, working to keep them aligned with the company’s evolving vision.

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