Winter Is Coming…Back!

Just when the weather was getting warmer and the flowers were starting to bloom, Mother Nature says “not so fast!” Winter is coming back with a vengeance for the northeast United States.

For those living in the Northeast, it has been a bit of an abnormal winter. With the exception of one major storm at the end of January, snow has been hard to come by for areas accustomed to a white few months. For example, per The Weather Channel, parts of northern New England in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Main are only 25% covered in snow, compared to much higher percentages last year.

Suddenly, however, we could be looking at one more winter nor’easter to end winter, and usher in spring. As this week winds down, and going into the beginning of the next, we are expecting cold air to move in from Canada over much of the area, per the GFS model:

12Z-20160317_gfsNE_sfc_temp
Courtesy – College of DuPage Weather

At the surface, you can also see the nor’easter we are talking about passing off the coast, with warm air wrapped up in it. The proximity of the storm to the coastline will have an impact on precipitation for the Northeast. The closer the storm runs to the coast, the more than warm air comes into play with a rain-snow line.

Furthermore, we consider the air temperatures aloft, at 850 hPa. which shows cold air advection leading up to a during this potential storm:

gfsNE_850_temp_084
850 hPa Temperatures at 00Z Monday, courtesy of College of DuPage Weather
gfsNE_850_temp_108
850 hPa Temperatures at 00Z Tuesday, courtesy of College of DuPage Weather

The cold air will certainly be in place as this storm moves in, meaning snow will be likely for many areas of the megalopolis. Now, further south towards Philadelphia and through New Jersey there will likely be some mixing with rain during the day on Sunday. But the outstanding questions remain timing and amounts.

As it is only Thursday, these are likely to continue changing. A slight shift east or west in the storm’s track can mean big differences in precipitation totals. There’s still even a chance that this storm will miss the northeast, and spare them of winter’s return. With that in mind, the focus of tomorrow’s column will shift to the models and how they follow the tracks and totals for this storm.

Be sure to be aware of this storm if you are living in the Northeast. With the potential for big snowfall totals on Sunday, you should be monitoring weather forecasts and tuning in to your local news for all the latest updates.

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