Major Winter Storm, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

When we last left this subject, we had Tornadoes, snow, ice, and me pulling my hair out over the newest NAM model giving Boston a foot of snow.    Oh New England, what am I going to do with you?

rain and snow

On to Virginia and the Mid Atlantic!!

West Virginia and Virginia:

Moving north from my last post into Virginia, only the Southeast portions of the state will get straight rain, most areas will have cold air being brought down for what could be a historic blizzard for portions of the state.

Blizzard Warnings are in effect for Charles, St. Mary, Calvert, Prince William, Manasas, Stafford, Spotsylvania and King George Counties.  This warning is from 1 PM Friday to 6 AM Sunday.  Heavy snow will begin Friday afternoon and while it may mix with sleet for a time east if I-95, It will change back to all snow Saturday afternoon.  18 to 24 inches of snow are expected in this region with the lower amounts near the bay.  Winds will be gusting up to 55 mph in  this area and I would strongly advise that no one in this region head out Friday night.

Winter Storm Warnings are in effect from Southeast West Virginia along and north of highway 460 towards Lynchburg and on to Appomattox.  16 to 24 inches of snow will fall in this area with the highest amounts in the Blue Ridge region. Snow will be heaviest during the mid-morning through midafternoon hours and gusty winds will reduce visibilities down to 0 in the higher terrain.

Further South and East, Central Virginia and the Interior Northern Neck region will have snow picking up late Friday morning and getting heavy at times during the afternoon and evening.  Sleet and Freezing rain may mix in some as the original low pressure system moves the west of this area before dying out as the secondary pushes north.  This changeover and possible change to rain on Saturday will help keep totals down in the 7-15 inch range with the higher totals in the Piedmont regions of central Virginia to the West and North of Richmond.

Down in the Southeast corner of the state, interior regions near Emporia, Wakefield and Williamsburg will see even lesser amounts as sleet and rain mix in with the snow.  After the mix, this area will turn to rain and have seen 2-5 inches of snow.  Though a fresh coating to an inch may occur as the precipitation changes back to snow on the backside of the low.

Heading back to West Virginia,  Central and Northwest areas of the state and including Western portions of Maryland from Hagerstown West, are set to see 18-24 inches of snow between Friday afternoon and Saturday evening.  Snow will be at its heaviest overnight Friday with strong Northeast winds reducing visibilities and making some roads in the mountains impassable.

Maryland D.C. and Delaware

Jumping over to the Eastern shore of Maryland.  The Southern tip of the Eastern shore will see snow begin Early Friday afternoon, but for those in Dorchester County, the warm oceans will mix in sleet and freezing rain before changing over to all rain for a time but additional snow accumulations are expected by Saturday afternoon and into Saturday night, leaving the county with about 6-12 inches of snow.  Even lower amounts are expected towards Wicomico and Somerset counties, as well as Inland Sussex County in Maryland, and Cape May County and Coastal Ocean County in New Jersey, where 2 to 6 inches may fall and Winter Storm Watches are in effect.  Sleet and then Rain will be a major factor in this area as temperatures climb into the upper 30s late Friday and stay that way through Saturday afternoon.  Worcester County will see very little snow and ice and accumulations of less than 2 inches are expected before the changeover to rain in this area.

For the remainder of the Eastern Shore and Kent and New Castle Delaware, 10 to 16 inches of snow is possible from Friday night into Sunday morning.  Blizzard conditions are possible during the day on Saturday as heavy snow, high winds, and cold temperatures combine before tapering off.

For the remainder of Maryland and D.C, Blizzard Warnings are in effect from 3 PM Friday until 6 AM Sunday, expect starting at 6 PM near Baltimore.   The Eastern Suburbs of DC and Baltimore can expect 18 to 24 inches of snow as sleet mixes in along and east of 95, but the western suburbs are in the bullseye as 24 to 30 inches of snow will fall where sleet does not mix with the snow.  Winds will gust to 50 mph creating whiteout conditions overnight Friday.  Anyone living in this area will want to be off the roads by early to mid-Friday afternoon.

rain and snow

Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York:

Much of the action with this system will take place in Southern and Eastern Pennsylvania.

In the West, Winter Weather Advisories are in effect for Washington, Westmoreland, Allegheny, and Indiana Counties including Pittsburgh for 4-6 inches of snow beginning on Friday afternoon and ending late Saturday afternoon.  Just east of there, Cambria, Blair, Huntington, Mifflin, Juniata and Schuylkill Counties are under Winter Storm Watches for 4-8 inches of snow during the same time period.  From Greene County over to York County and up to Dauphin and Lebanon Counties, Winter Storm Warnings are in effect for 6 to 12 inches of snow with as much as 24 inches along the Maryland border in places.

The bullseye region for here is from Philadelphia down to just inland of Atlantic City up through Trenton, Newark, New York City and out to Long Island.  Blizzard Watches are in effect for 8-16 inches of snow.  Less by the coastlines and more inland.  Blizzard conditions are possible during the day and evening on Saturday as heavy snow, winds as high as 40 mph, and cold temperatures combine before tapering off.

For Counties further inland, a line from the city of Reading, through Allentown and Morristown to West Milford and into Peekskill New York and the rest of the Lower Hudson Valley, Winter Storm Watches are in effect for 4-10 inches of snow beginning late on Friday or Early Saturday before tapering off Sunday morning.  This snow is expected to be very heavy and wet which reduces the chances of blowing and drifting snow.

New England:

Data on New England snowfall continues to change by the hour.  The gradient of snowfall in this location is massive and a difference of just 20 miles in the track of the storm can be the difference between no snow and half a foot.  Model outputs from earlier today gave Providence a foot of snow while giving Boston less than an inch and model data on whether or not this region will get hit is all over the place.

close shave

What I can tell you is this, Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire are simply too far north to get in on this system.  The real question, and I do not yet have a good answer for readers in these locations, is what will happen in Southern New England. Any snowfall that does occur here will not arrive until Saturday afternoon and would taper off late Sunday.  So I will be up bright and early to begin looking at the 6Z and 12 Z runs of the models.  Consensus or not this region will have a forecast by Friday.

 

Please be aware that strong winds and coastal flooding will be a risk from North Carolina all the way through New England on the astronomically high tide.

 

Thank you for sticking with us on this incredibly busy day.  We will see you bright and early Friday.

 

Robert Millette

Meteorologist

Firsthand Weather

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

Meteorologist

Firsthand Weather

East Coast Winter Storm Expected To Develop This Weekend

Expected Temperature Departures For Saturday

Over the past couple of weeks, the forecast models have been in complete limbo. Even the European model, which is usually the model of choice for medium-range to long-range forecasting, has been all over the place in recent weeks. Initially, models had ridging building over the eastern United States to kick off November, which would have brought the area above average temperatures, but things made an 180 degree flip just a few days afterwards. I say that to point out that the atmosphere is acting in a way that has been difficult for models to handle, and it is showing in their outputs. I can’t say that I’m surprised, but that makes forecasting extra tricky. Once we get into the swing of winter, hopefully everything will get better. If you followed my forecasts at all last winter, you know that it’s common for me to disagree with forecast models especially in the medium and long-range.

What To Expect This Weekend: 

There is a trough that is going to develop and strength as it digs south over the eastern United States. A mid-level shortwave trough is then going to push south late this week and eventually close off as it makes it way to the Carolinas by this weekend. There is a strong model consensus that a surface low is going to develop over the Carolinas, and then strengthen off the Carolina coast. Now, don’t worry if you don’t understand any of the meteorology behind this.

Basically, this amplified trough is going to bring cold air with it. Areas such as the Great Lakes, the Ohio River Valley, the Tennessee Valley, the Southern Plains, the Southeast, and the East Coast will be experiencing the coldest air of the season so far this year. This is an impressive system for this time of year, although it’s not necessarily unprecedented. Places even into the panhandle of Florida will have temperatures dipping down into the 30s. You can expect areas further to the South experiencing their first freeze of the season this weekend. Strong winds can also be expected with this system, particularly in the mountains.

Expected Temperature Departures For Saturday

Expected Temperature Departures For Saturday

This will give you a taste of what I am expecting to come this winter. The weather across the United States will be volatile in November, meaning I don’t expect a cold pattern to set in for a long period of time for any particular region early on. I do expect wild swings in temperatures throughout the month, but I will discuss more about that in a few days.

What To Expect With This Winter Storm: 

Because there is a strong model consensus on the track of the upper-level feature that will be pushing south, it is hard for me to disagree with the overall track and where the surface low will develop. However, if for some reason the upper level low does not go as far south as forecast models are projecting, then we have a much bigger East Coast winter storm on our hands. At this point, I’m not ruling that possibility out.

Because the upper-level low is expected to push further south, the surface low pressure will be developing further south and eventually deepening along the Carolina coast. Now, the track of this system is key. If the current model projections verify, then this storm would produce a fairly decent snow event in the mountains, and amazingly, models even have enough cold air rushing in that there could be some wet snowflakes or snow showers outside of the mountains, possibly in the Charlotte area and even into northern South Carolina. Places even as far south as the southern Appalachians could get some snow.

Latest NAM Shows A Decent Snowfall Event In The Mountains

Latest NAM Shows A Decent Snowfall Event In The Mountains

Since this upper-level low is projected to go so far to the south, the surface low would stay far enough off the coast once it starts moving northward to prevent a major East Coast winter storm from taking place. Could this upper-level feature not go as far south? It’s possible, and future model runs need to be monitored just in case that were to occur. We would be dealing with a much bigger event along the East Coast if that were to happen.

Regardless, the mountains will most likely get their first big northwest-flow snow event, and places up in the Ohio Valley could see some snow. This low pressure eventually will move along the Northeast coast later in the weekend, and places like eastern Maine could get some pretty heavy snow.

So basically, storm track is pretty much everything. The cold air seems like it will be sufficient to support a winter storm, but how everything evolves will determine who gets what and how much. I always have a hard time trusting the forecast models particularly this time of year when we are entering the winter months and are in a transition phase. I always like to see how the models handle these pre-season storms.

Follow Firsthand Weather on Facebook: 

I will be posting future updates on any changes regarding the weekend winter storm on Facebook, so be sure to like the page if you haven’t already. If there were to be any significant changes, I will be posting a follow-up article, but otherwise, I will be working on Firsthand Weather’s final 2014-15 winter forecast that will be coming out this Sunday, November 2nd at 2 pm ET.

East Coast Winter Storm Looking More Likely

So we have another Arctic air mass that is going to push southward into the central and eastern United States, and with that cold, there could be an East Coast storm. Even though I was a little off on the timing, this is the potential mid-March storm that I started talking about earlier this month. If you’re like me, I wish that this would be the one forecast that I’m actually wrong on because I’m ready for spring to get here and stay. We have gotten a taste of spring already, but winter just doesn’t want to go away. It’s been a fun winter, but I’m ready to forecast for something different. Unfortunately it’s looking like April is going to bring much of the same thing, but temperatures should be better. Naturally, we just start to warm up this time of year.

I want to keep tonight’s article very brief, but I want to bring to your attention a potential East Coast winter storm next week. Given the impressive Arctic air mass that will be moving over the central and eastern U.S., it’s actually possible that this storm could be impressive, especially for this time of year. Right now, it’s hard to determine who will get frozen precipitation and who won’t. The reason that this gets difficult to forecast precipitation types this time of year is because you have a more direct sun angle, and everything just naturally starts to warm up. I’m impressed by the amount of cold air that the forecast models are picking up on for next week, so nothing would surprise me at this point. This winter (well actually it’ll be spring tomorrow) has been nothing short of impressive, and it continues to not let up!

I want to point out that the track of this system will be very important. The latest European model has snow all the way down to parts of the Carolinas and up portions of the East Coast. The deterministic GFS model also has a similar scenario with snow impressively far south. Several members of the GFS ensemble also call for an East Coast storm, and other models show similar scenarios. This is pretty good agreement to say the least and shouldn’t be ignored.

Another thing that I want to point out is the very warm waters that are currently off the East Coast. If this storm does develop, I wouldn’t be surprised if it rapidly strengthened or bombed out off the East Coast. Waters in the Gulf of Mexico are very warm also, which would also enhance the development of a system like this.

When you get this type of pattern setting up along with warmer waters off the East Coast and in the Gulf, you can get an impressive system. It’s very late in the season and a lot of things need to come together, but I think the chances are good. As we get closer to this event, I’ll get into more of the specifics as things become more certain. Please continue to follow me on Facebook where I’ll do continuous coverage daily.

European model snowfall totals

The latest European model shows accumulating snowfall all the way into the Carolinas. Ignore snowfall totals for now. Forecast model courtesy of WeatherBell.

Sea Surface Temperatures

This map shows you how warm the sea surface temperatures are off the East Coast.