An already active start to the winter season will continue this week as more snow and record cold temperatures infiltrate major cities from the Midwest to the Northeast.
A weak disturbance currently producing light snowfall across the northern Plains and northwestern US will slowly strengthen as it meets up with southern energy early on Monday. This will cause the region of light snowfall to expand well west, stretching from Nebraska to Michigan, where Winter Weather Advisories have been issued for several inches of accumulating snowfall.
As we move into the second half of the day on Monday, steadier snow will likely break out across a more confined region from northern Illinois on eastward into much of the Ohio Valley – Plowable snow should be expected for cities like Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit, and Cleveland.
Monday night and into Tuesday, a more consolidated low pressure system will attempt to become better organized across central Pennsylvania as a strong arctic front trails behind. Temperatures will fall by 10-15 degrees in just a few hours from New Orleans to Albany. Along the front and north of our strengthening low pressure system, heavier snow will begin to breakout, dropping more aggressive snowfall totals. Places across upstate New York and New England will feel the brunt of this winter storm, with snowfall totals exceeding 6 inches in many places. Factor in some enhancement from the Great Lakes and there could be some localized places that eclipse 10-12 inches before all is done.
Closer to the coast, low pressure placement well inland will keep this storm a mostly rain event. However, with our arctic front crashing so quickly behind, there will be an opportunity for rain to end as a period of wet snow stretching from eastern Tennessee through West Virginia and then up into central and eastern Pennsylvania. As we head into Tuesday afternoon, we could see rain end as some snow across northern New Jersey, southern New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. There will even be a chance for portions of the I-95 corridor to see their first flakes of the season, but we don’t expect much in the way of accumulations.
The extreme cold behind our cross-country storm system will be incredibly out of season – Temperatures that would be considered cold even for the middle of January. High temperatures on Wednesday will struggle to break freezing right down to the I-95 corridor, while inland locations will be locked into the teens and twenties. Compared to 24 hours earlier, temperature will be 25-40 degrees colder, leading to a potential flash-freeze and major black ice issues. Temperatures should rebound a bit on Thursday and Friday, but still remain largely below average.
Looking ahead into the longer range, much of the country will see fairly tranquil weather. Across the central and western US temperatures should rebound nicely into the weekend. The next big story we’ll be watching is a coastal storm system that could threaten the Eastern Seaboard towards the end of the weekend and into early next week. We’ll be keeping a close eye on it to see if brings more wintry weather to the region.