A significant winter storm is set to develop later this week, impacting parts of the eastern US through this weekend. Some cities that have not seem much snow so far this season will finally experience several inches of snowfall, while others will be out of luck once again.
We’ll see a disturbance moving into the western Mexican coast on Thursday as it rides the subtropical jet stream, and it is this disturbance that will be the ultimate contributor to our weekend snowstorm. By late in the day Friday, low pressure will form east of the mountains and over the southern Plains. This low will then track in an east-northeast direction through this weekend as it attempts to phase with the polar jet stream. Unfortunately for many folks in the Northeast, this phase will happen to late, keeping most of the region dry instead of snowy. On the other hand, though, the Ohio River Valley and parts of the Mid-Atlantic will be in for rather significant snowfall totals.
The first signs of any snow will begin Friday as the low pressure forms over the Plains. While moisture starts to flow in from the Gulf of Mexico, that will lead to a steady rain and some thunder across much of the southern Plains. Then, once that moisture sneaks into the western Ohio River Valley late in the day, we should see snow and/or a wintry mix break out, especially in Missouri.
Overnight Friday, that snow shield will expand as more moisture collides into the cold, freezing air, courtesy of the high pressure to the northeast. Now we’ll see a large shield of light to moderate snow likely break out from parts of Kansas and Nebraska through the western Ohio River Valley. Major cities that are forecast to deal with this snow include St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, and Indianapolis. It’s unsure how far north this moisture will get, so a city like Chicago may be in play for light snow for several hours, but areas further north than Chicago in the Great Lakes region should expect little to no snow from this storm.
On Saturday, the I-70 corridor will be hammered with moderate to perhaps heavy snow from the Kansas City area all the way to its eastern end in Baltimore. All travel in the region during this time period should be avoided, especially in the Ohio River Valley due to the widespread snow. South of the Ohio River, most areas will deal with a transition from snow Friday night to rain during the day Saturday. Now in the Mid-Atlantic, the forecast is a bit uncertain because of how much cold air will be in play in addition to the exact track of the low pressure. At this time, we anticipate a light snow to sneak into much of the region by the end of the day, impacting cities like Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, and possibly Richmond.
Then Saturday night, the snow will persist in the Ohio River Valley while finally clearing out of the central Plains. In the Mid-Atlantic, a moderate snow should continue to fall in northern and western parts of Virginia and in the central Appalachian Mountains while a lighter snow comes down north of the Mason-Dixon Line. Again, how far north this moisture gets is uncertain, but the New York City Tri-State Area as well as the southern coast of New England could be in for a light snow. Now to the south, there will be mixing and icing issues across southern portions of Virginia and western North Carolina due to cold air at the surface but slightly warmer air aloft.
On Sunday, the precipitation will gradually clear out of the Ohio River Valley while all eyes shift to the East Coast. Snow should continue across similar areas Saturday night in the Mid-Atlantic, with the steadiest and heaviest of snow in the Washington, DC and Baltimore areas. Could this end up being rain or a wintry mix in these cities? Yes, but the current data reflects on a mainly-snow scenario at this time. Light snow will remain a threat to north in the New York City area, but again, the forecast is still uncertain.
By Sunday night, most of the precipitation should shift offshore. There is the small risk that the coastal storm takes a more northern track, bringing snow to parts of New England, but we don’t expect that to happen at this time.
Stay with WeatherOptics for additional information and updates on this storm.