Colder Air, Snow Chances In Store For Midwest And Northeast
Temperatures will peak near record-high levels in portions of the Midwest and Northeast into Thursday, but a colder and potentially stormier pattern with snow and ice is forecast to set up across the northern third of the nation during the second half of February, AccuWeather meteorologists say.
The first wave of colder air will progress from west to east across the Central states late this week and the Eastern states by this weekend as a cold front marks the end of record-challenging temperatures. From Friday to Saturday morning, temperatures will be slashed by as much as 35 degrees from the Appalachians to much of the Atlantic coast during the winter reality check.
“It will go from feeling like late April to like mid-February in about 24 hours,” AccuWeather Chief On-Air Meteorologist Bernie Rayno said. For example, in New York City, morning temperatures in the low 60s on Friday will be swapped with temperatures in the upper 20s Saturday morning with AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures in the teens.
Even though temperatures may gradually inch back up from Friday to Saturday in the Midwest and from Sunday to Monday in the Northeast, a new round of changes are likely to allow cold air to have more of a foothold over the northern United States.
“One or two weak storm systems are likely to track from west to east across the Midwest and Northeast early next week,” AccuWeather Senior Long-Range Meteorologist Joe Lundberg said. “How far south the cold air is able to get in the wake of those storms may set the stage for something big in the form of wintry precipitation over the northern tier.”
One or both of those weak features may produce small patches of snow or mixed precipitation from portions of the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes to the central Appalachians and Northeast from Monday to Wednesday.
A storm has the potential to bring cold air and snow over much of the Northwest during the middle of next week. Heavy snow could fall close to sea level in Washington and Oregon.
During the latter part of next week, that large storm will move across the Midwest and then the Northeast.
Since cold air will be firmly entrenched over areas from the central and northern Great Lakes to upstate New York and central and northern New England, snow and perhaps a wintry mix seems likely with major travel delays possible.
Depending on where the southern edge of the cold air ends up, a zone along interstates 70 and 80 could either receive snow and/or ice or mostly rain. Airline passengers could face substantial delays and flight cancellations later next week in the major Midwest hubs of Minneapolis, Chicago, Detroit and perhaps Boston in the Northeast.
AccuWeather’s long-range forecasting team continues to look even farther ahead and explore the possibility that the polar vortex may weaken and allow waves of frigid air to push farther south during March and April. When the polar vortex remains strong, as it has been in early February, the coldest air is often pent up near the Arctic Circle.
“An atmospheric traffic jam at the jet stream level, known as a blocking weather pattern, may set up near Greenland, which can force colder air southward across eastern Canada in the coming weeks,” Lundberg said.
“Since there may be a persistent area of high pressure over the Gulf of Mexico that may counteract the cold air for a time, there is some question about how far south into the Midwest and Northeast that Arctic air may push,” Lundberg explained. “The Greenland block may get into a better position to allow much colder air later in March to April, which could be bad news for buds, blossoms and springtime weather enthusiasts.”
The upcoming pattern change does not necessarily mean that frequent snowstorms are in store for the Interstate 95 corridor of the Northeast. The area of high pressure over the Southeastern states and the Gulf of Mexico may remain a key factor in providing warm air.
However, the coming blocking pattern could open the door for a couple of snow events, especially during March and early April along the I-95 corridor.
“If that Gulf high-pressure area is able to flatten out at times, allowing bursts of cold air into the Northeast, and the timing with a storm coincides, there could still be a couple of snowstorms in the I-95 zones during the late winter and early spring,” AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok said.
In the meantime, the snow drought continues for much of the Northeast.
Most major metro areas from New York City to Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., have barely had a few tenths of an inch of snow so far this winter.
Boston, which has fared the best in the I-95 snowfall department this winter with 7.9 inches, is far below the historical average with a deficit of 23.8 inches as of Feb. 14.
Buffalo, New York, continues to ride the wave of above-average snowfall, due largely to the yards of snow that fell in the days surrounding Christmas.
Details will continue to unfold in the coming days in regard to the patches of snow early next week and the potential for a big storm with major snow and ice later next week for the Midwest and Northeast, AccuWeather meteorologists say.
Produced in association with AccuWeather.