Tuesday, January 19, 2016 1:17 AM

Forecast confidence grows for a major Winter Storm


The forecast models are showing good consistency on a potentially large winter storm that will move across Texas on Thursday with heavy rain across much of the South and ending with snow across much of the Northeast on Sunday.  A lot will depend on the ultimate track of the system and more of this will come into focus during the next few days.  I will not be going into the my usual in-depth focus on local regions as it is still far too early to be looking at those details (at least for the Northeast) but this article is here to give you at least a broad outline of what we will be looking at over the coming days as more details for this winter storm come into focus.

On Thursday, rain will develop across Eastern Texas and Oklahoma and spread east towards Northern and Central Alabama and Georgia on into the Carolinas and Western Virginia with some potentially heavy rains across the Central Mississippi River Valley up into Tennessee.  Some light icing could be a risk from Southeastern Missouri, Southern Illinois and Indiana into Central Kentucky and snow will be falling from  Southeastern Kansas into Northeastern Oklahoma and Southern and Central Missouri.

Tuesday rain

By Friday, heavy rain will continue up into Kentucky with rains trailing down into the Florida panhandle along the cold front.  Light ice could again be a risk in North Carolina and Virginia along the state borders while snow will fall along the Northern edge of the precipitation shield and behind the system as cold air wraps around from Northeast Arkansas and near the Memphis area across Southern Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and across much of West Virginia and Western, Central and Northern Virginia to begin Friday.

As we move into Friday afternoon, Heavy Rain will push up into Southern West Virginia, the Carolina and Southeastern Virginia as the old low begins to weaken in favor of a new coastal low that develops. Heavy rain will move into the Carolinas during this time period.  Snow will continue across the western and northern edges of the precipitation shield from Western Tennessee around through Southern Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Northern Western Virginia, Southern Pennsylvania and Northern and Central Virginia.

Tuesday rain

Once the Coastal Low redevelops, Heavy rain will fall along the coastal regions of the Carolinas and Virginia up into the Delmarva Peninsula up towards DC and Baltimore, both of which will be very close to the rain snow line. Rain will change over to snow back in the Appalachians region as precipitation begins to end in western areas of Tennessee, Southern Illinois and Indiana on Friday night.  Beginning late Friday and early Saturday, High pressure over Kansas and Oklahoma will combine with the Coastal low to create a flow that will generate topographic snow along the Appalachian chain with light snow continuing throughout Kentucky into portions Tennessee.  Snow will continue to fall over most of Ohio and Pennsylvania with heavy snow in the Philadelphia Metro region while snow begins to fall along the Pennsylvania and New York border and across the New York City Metro area and Long Island into Southeastern New England.

Tuesday rain

By Saturday afternoon, rain should have moved out of the Carolinas with the exception of a few rain and snow showers with the western and central parts of the state. Wrap around snow will continue along the Appalachians and rain will change to snow in the DC and Baltimore areas as the rain snow line retreats toward the coast.  Snow should be falling throughout all of Southern New England including the cape as snow begins to move into the areas around Manchester New Hampshire, Portland Maine, Rutland Vermont and Albany and Syracuse New York.

Current thinking has the storm rapidly developing southeast of New England near the benchmark bringing heavy snow the Eastern New England with a potential change over to some rain in southern coastal locations and especially on the cape.  Coastal areas where the changeover does not occur will be the hardest hit by snow.

Tuesday rain

Snow will have mostly withdrawn from areas outside the northeast by Sunday morning with the last bits of snow pulling out of the Boston area and Eastern Maine Sunday evening.

Precipitation will not be the only risk with this system for coastal areas from the Mid Atlantic into New England as gale to storm force winds will help create some coastal flooding issues on the astronomically high tide. The timing of this system will heavily determine the coastal flooding chances for low lying areas.

Robert Millette


Firsthand Weather