Meteorologist Domenica Davis looks ahead to a late week storm that could be a snowmaker for the East Coast.
For a large majority of the eastern United States, snow has been mostly absent from the forecast – and from the actual weather – so far this winter.
That could change late this week in parts of the Ohio Valley, Appalachians, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast as various computer models are showing the potential for accumulating snow, which in some areas could be significant. However, since we are still about five days away there is still plenty of uncertainty regarding this potential storm.
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Below we discuss what we know and don’t know right now.
Snow This Week: Uncertainty Remains
What we know:
Light to moderate snow accumulations are possible Tuesday and Wednesday from the northern and central Plains to the mid-Mississippi Valley, Ohio Valley and central Appalachians from an initial weather system.
After that, a potentially more significant winter storm may take shape Thursday through next weekend. This could deliver a more high-impact snowfall to parts of the East.
Forecast Highs and Weather
What we don’t know:
For the potential late week winter storm uncertainties remain high with the exact track of this storm, how strong it will be, and how long it will last. All of those factors will dictate whether we see a major winter storm or a more modest winter storm. It’s looking unlikely that a winter storm will fail to develop at all, but for many locations it’s far from certain what kind of impact this system will have.
Keep this in mind any time that you are checking your weather.com forecast or mobile app since forecast timing and amounts may change from what you see early in the week leading up to a particular storm.
(MAPS: Weekly Planner)
For now, we are looking at two rounds of possible wintry weather, with the second late week event having the greatest potential for significant snow amounts. Here’s an outline of both events this week.
Round 1 (Tuesday-Wednesday): Light to Moderate Accumulations
- What: A weather system that pushed into the West Sunday night will be responsible for this first round of snow. The majority of the forecast guidance suggests that this system will stay weak as it moves east, but it could still bring some locally moderate accumulations in a narrow swath as it moves from the Plains into the Ohio Valley.
- Where: Light snow to locally moderate snow moves from parts of the Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa, northern Kansas and Missouri Tuesday to portions of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, western Pennsylvania and northeast Tennessee Tuesday night into Wednesday.
- How much: Generally 1 to 3 inches of accumulation (locally up to 6 inches) is expected from parts of the Dakotas to southern Minnesota, east Nebraska, Iowa, northern/central Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and parts of Kentucky.
Round 2: (Thursday through Sunday): Potentially More Significant Winter Storm?
- What: A more potent weather system will take shape in the Midwest and South late this week in response to upper-level energy pushing into the West Tuesday into Wednesday. Once this energy gets east of the Rockies, it will likely trigger the development of a low pressure system over the South that may track then track to near or off the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast coasts late Friday into the weekend.
- Where: Snow may initially develop from the central Plains into the Ozarks and Ohio Valley Thursday. By Thursday night or Friday, snow or a rain/snow mix may impact parts of the Ohio Valley, Tennessee Valley, Appalachians and potentially the Mid-Atlantic. The potential for wintry weather would then impact parts of the Northeast I-95 Friday night through Saturday, potentially lingering into Sunday.
- How much: For all of the above mentioned areas, the snowfall accumulation potential will depend on a number of factors such as the timing, strength and the exact track of this storm. This is why you should check daily to see what the latest forecast is showing for potential snowfall accumulation in your location. That said, there is a realistic chance for very heavy snowfall to occur in some part of the Mid-Atlantic and/or Northeast. Below we discuss why the forecast is uncertain.
Why is There Uncertainty With the Late Week Storm?
It’s fairly common to have uncertainty with a potential winter storm several days in advance, and sometimes the details aren’t yet set in stone until a day or two in advance in very complicated situations.
In this case, the upper-level energy responsible for the potential late week storm is still over the northern Pacific Ocean, which is a long distance away from the eastern United States.
Computer models are used to depict how that energy may track and evolve through the atmosphere over the course of time, and can yield different or similar outcomes with each run of the models every day.
One factor in play is the fact that the disturbance is still in an area that is lacking the kind of surface and upper-air weather data that are found over land areas for the computer models to ingest. Once the system reaches the West Coast later Tuesday it will finally be in an area where more of that data is available for computer models to use. This in turn may lead to a convergence of model scenarios towards a consensus, meaning, a “most likely” forecast.
Possible East Coast Storm Setup
Possible East Coast Storm Setup
When this occurs, it will give forecasters a much better handle on the details of the exact track and timing of the low pressure system that we expect to move from the southern states to off the Mid-Atlantic or Northeast coasts late this week. Also in play is the amount of cold air available for the storm to tap into along its path; that factor will determine which locations see snow, a mixture of rain and snow, or plain rain.
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Possible East Coast Storm Setup
For now, keep watching your forecast each day for updates as we head through the week.
Lack of Snow So Far This Season
The East Coast has seen below-average snowfall so far this season. Baltimore and Washington, D.C., both saw their first measurable snowfall, meaning at least 0.1 inches of snow, of the season just this Sunday, Jan. 17. Central Park, in New York City, also saw their first measurable snowfall on Sunday, which is the sixth latest first measurable snow on record there.
Listed below are the snowfall deficits for a few select cities as of Jan. 17:
- Burlington, Vermont has received 14.2 inches of snow so far and that is almost 21 inches below average.
- Boston has measured 1.2 inches of snow so far this season, which is 16 inches below average.
- New York saw their first measurable snow of 0.1 inches fell Sunday which puts New York just under 9 inches below average.
- Albany, New York has seen only 4.4 inches of snow accumulate, leaving the city over 22 inches below average.
- Pittsburgh has measured 6.6 inches of snow this season, putting the snowfall deficit at just over 10 inches.
- Philadelphia has only recorded a trace of snow, which is almost 7 inches below average.
- Washington, D.C. reported their first measurable snow of 0.3 inches on Sunday, which is just over 5 inches below average season-to-date.
If the East Coast storm develops into a major winter storm late this week, many of these snowfall deficits will be significantly reduced, if not eliminated.
Check back with weather.com for the latest information and forecast.
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