As yesterday’s winter storm continues offshore this morning, the Northeast faces the its impacts and braces for more lake effect snow before the day’s end. This weekend, snow builds into the Northern and Central Plains  and is expected to make its way eastward by Sunday. On the west coast, even as fires in CA die down, smoke particles cause severe air quality hazards and fire weather risk resurfaces later this weekend.

This is the Friday edition of your Morning Briefing. Let’s dive right in.

What’s Next for the Northeast:

  1. 300,000+ power outages, 100s of car accidents, and plenty of school closings followed the onset of yesterday’s winter storm. Roads across the region remain icy and slick while the last of the storm moves offshore, and the sun begins to work on the melting process.
  2. Snowfall totals so far have reached up to 12″, which is 4″ over national consensus. Quick timing and lingering cold air made for an unexpectedly over-performing storm, leaving most of the region unprepared.
  3. By the end of the day today, the last bits of flurries and showers will end, however, lake effect snow will continue to drop 2-3″ more of snow over Upstate NY and the surrounding areas.
  4. Overall, temperatures will warm slightly this weekend. Mostly sunny skies will work relatively quickly to help clear our roads and walkways before the next round of winter weather makes its way into the region.

Power outages, school closings, and car accidents continue to plague the Northeast today after an extraordinarily over-performing winter storm hit the region. Snowfall totals are still being calculated as the storm lets its last few flakes and raindrops fall over southern New England. The above graphic shows the current snowfall totals, starting yesterday morning, with the lightest blue shading meaning 1″ and the darkest orange meaning 12″. This storm was not expected to drop nearly this much snow; NWS only updated winter weather warnings to encompass all counties in need by midday yesterday. Many states were unprepared and chaos ensued during yesterday’s evening commute. Just on Long Island, there were 465 reported accidents yesterday according to News 12. Cars were sliding and getting stuck on roads that were not prepared to deal with this magnitude of weather just yet. 2018 is now the earliest 6″ snowfall on record for Central Park. This morning, many schools are closed while the region welcomes the warmth of the sun to help speed along the recovery process. As we head into the weekend, temperatures will warm slightly as high pressure briefly builds aloft. Still subfreezing, many areas in upstate NY can expect rounds of lake effect snow, adding 2-3″ onto snowfall totals. Thankfully, we should see a brief respite as the sun melts away some of yesterday’s mess before the next bout of winter weather makes its appearance.

Snow and Rain Beginning in Northern Plains Today to Move into East Coast by Sunday:

  1. By early this evening, a surface system of showers and snow will develop over the Northern and Central Plains. Moderate to heavy snowfall can be expected, especially in parts of the Northern Rockies where precipitation may also develop.
  2. By tonight, the system will have weakened as it swiftly reaches the Mississippi River Valley, and, by Saturday morning, the Great Lakes.
  3. On Sunday, it will have finally made its way to the East coast, bringing with it only light precipitation in the form of showers and flurries. This will be nothing compared to this passing winter storm, however, the thought of even another coating of snow may make some reel.

The next shortwave trough will not be nearly as strong as this last one. Coming down into the Northern Plains from Canada this morning, this trough will be quick. By Sunday evening, the leading edge of this trough will have reached the Eastern Coast, bringing with it any precipitation that has developed. By this evening, a surface system ahead of this upper-level trough will produce moderate to heavy rain and snow for the Northern and Central Plains. This system will move eastward, reaching parts of the Mississippi River Valley by the end of the day today. Saturday morning, the lower Great Lakes will see a few flakes and showers, before it finally moves into and over the Northeast by daybreak on Sunday. Precipitation will be mixed and light by the time it reaches the East coast, with only flurries and showers expected. It will move off the coast quickly, starting the next work week with clearer skies.

Even with Fires Under Control, Smoke and other Particles Cause Hazardous Air Quality in California:

  1. Dangerous fires have displaced thousands and killed over 60. Over 600 people remain missing as California begins to grapple the magnitude of destruction it has faced.
  2. The danger did not end with the fires. Hazardous air quality conditions remain over much of California today as smoke and ash hang in the air.
  3. Rain is the most effective way to clean particles like this out of the air; waiting for them to simply drop out acts on the order of days. Thankfully, by Thanksgiving this Thursday, light rain is expected to fall, helping relieve some of the conditions that plagued the state this week.


Every Fall, dry Santa Ana winds exacerbate drought conditions in California, leading to many days of critical fire weather conditions. Over 600 people remain missing after fires devastated the state this week. 63 people have been reported dead, and thousands have be pushed from their homes to escape the flames. Today, the fires have finally been quelled, but that does not mean that the damage has been done. Smoke and ash continue to hang in the air, causing terrible air quality issues for the region. Much of Southern California has long lasting pollution problems because of the lack of precipitation, which essentially acts to clean the air. Thankfully, this upcoming week, rain is expected to arrive, helping relieve drought conditions and making the air much safer for Thanksgiving day.

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


Kathleen is a writer and meteorological consultant at WeatherOptics. A recent graduate from Stony Brook University, Kathleen has earned her B.S. in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. Previously, she has done research on the role of Atmospheric Rivers on Arctic Amplification and forecasted for local pages like SBU Weather.

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