Massive Winter Storm To Unload Snow From Missouri To Maine
A dynamic cross-country storm will unleash a slew of problems as it sweeps from the South Central states to the Midwest late this week.
A broad zone of snow will develop along its northern edge and spread from the mid-Mississippi Valley to the Great Lakes and eventually northern New York state and New England, AccuWeather meteorologists warn. Travel disruptions are likely to mount as snowfall totals of 6-12 inches are expected along a 1,300-mile-long corridor of the United States, and a major multiday severe weather outbreak will be underway to the south of the storm’s path.
The storm will hit the major airport hubs of Chicago, Detroit and Boston the hardest with snow. Enough snow will fall to activate plowing operations on runways, and the deicing of aircraft will be necessary. Flight delays from drenching rain and poor visibility are also likely farther to the south in the major hubs of St. Louis and Pittsburgh, as well as New York City and Philadelphia. Ripple-effect delays will likely occur throughout the nation as the storm affects crews and planes.
“The storm will hit the nation’s airline travel hard because of the number of major hubs involved,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dean DeVore said, adding that an increased volume of travelers due to spring break will only complicate matters.
AccuWeather meteorologists expect 6-10 inches of snow to fall in Chicago, which will be the city’s biggest snowfall of the season to date, and 3-6 inches of snow are forecast in Detroit and at least a few inches are on the way for Boston.
“There will be a sharp gradient for snowfall in many of the major metro areas from the Upper Midwest to the Northeast,” DeVore said. “This is mainly due to a prominent wedge of warm air near and just south of the storm, but also dry air to the north of the system.”
As the storm pushes to the north, it will encounter progressively colder air, allowing snow to break out instead of rain. Rain will transition to snow in central and northern Missouri and perhaps as far to the west as parts of eastern Kansas early Friday.
Heavy snow will target Chicago from Friday afternoon to Friday evening. Within the heaviest snow band, snowfall rates of 1-2 inches per hour are likely, and the Windy City could face quickly accumulating snowfall of that magnitude. Road conditions will rapidly deteriorate after the heavy snow moves in.
AccuWeather forecasters say that conditions will vary drastically over short distances due to warm air causing precipitation to fall as rain to the southeast of Chicago. To the northwest of the city, too much dry air will be in place for precipitation to develop.
A similar setup will unfold farther to the east as well as moisture reaches the Detroit metro area.
“Detroit is most likely going to pick up 3-6 inches of snow with 6-10 inches [accumulating] not too far to the north and west,” DeVore said. “While parts of central Michigan receive a foot of snow, areas downriver may pick up only a couple of inches of snow and slush with a change to drenching rain from Friday afternoon to Friday night.”
Areas of heavy rain, locally dense fog and even severe thunderstorms will pose the main travel troubles in portions of the Interstate 64 and 70 corridors of the Midwest and even as far to the north as I-80 in Ohio on Friday.
The situation will be more complex in the Northeast. As the storm pushes toward the Great Lakes and weakens into Friday night, a secondary storm will take shape along the mid-Atlantic coast. That secondary storm will become the more dominant of the two as it picks up steam on Saturday.
The heaviest snow will spread across central and northern New York state. Snowfall accumulations will range from a few inches to a foot or more from Friday afternoon to early Saturday.
Farther south, a brief period of snow, sleet and even freezing rain will create messy travel conditions for at time across the central Appalachians on Friday. Precipitation will changeover to rain and drizzle later Friday and Friday night. On top of rain, fog may develop and slow travel on the highways and lead to flight delays.
Conditions will vary widely across New England.
“The dividing line between rain and snow will set up near the downtown area of Boston, so 2-4 inches of snow and slush are likely before a changeover to rain,” DeVore said. “Areas north and west of the city center could ramp up and get to 4-8 inches of snow with areas beyond Interstate 495 potentially seeing even bigger amounts.”
Should the coastal storm ramp up quickly and move slowly away, snow on the back side of the system could linger into Saturday night, with an additional accumulation around Boston.
If the coastal storm develops to its full potential, parts of central and northern New England may pick up 1-2 feet of snow with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 28 inches most likely to occur over the ridges and peaks.
“The storm from Friday to Saturday looks much less snowy than the storm that brought New York City its biggest snowfall of the year,” DeVore said. The storm on Monday night dropped 2.2 inches of snow on Central Park, but amounts of up to 6 inches were reported in the Bronx.
A quick change to rain later Friday or Friday evening should limit the amount of snow and slush to no more than a coating to an inch around much of New York City. DeVore pointed out that the rain is likely to be heavy at times from Friday night to Saturday morning in the Big Apple.
The combination of rain, a low cloud ceiling and fog can lead to slow travel on the roads and airline delays along the I-95 corridor from Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia and New York City early this weekend.
Travel conditions will improve from west to east across the Midwest and Northeast on Sunday. However, there may be lingering snow showers in portions of upstate New York and New England, along with blustery and colder conditions.
Even though March and meteorological spring have begun, the pattern across the Midwest and Northeast is expected to be more wintry. Colder air will visit frequently, triggering the potential for more storms with snow.
Produced in association with AccuWeather