Areas along the east coast from Virginia to Maine have seen much below normal snowfall accumulations so far this winter, but that could change early next week. The winter started off promising enough with a cold last week of November that continued through the first week of December. After that temperature started to rise, and didn’t stop for the holidays. Through the middle of January it looked like this could be the warmest winter in the record books for many areas on the east coast. Then the floodgates for the cold air opened up. It slowly got colder towards the end of January, with the last Thursday and Friday of the month being frigid in the northeast and very cold through the Mid Atlantic states. The week of February 4th has been brutally cold in the east.
Despite all this cold air though, there has been very little snow to talk about. Most of the large cities on the east coast have struggled to reach a total accumulation of 5 inches. That is what would fall in a low end moderate storm for most of those cities in your average winter. There have been no Nor’Easters or storms that ride up the east coast since this infusion of cold hair has occurred. Most of these cities have received their snow an inch or two at a time through squall lines associated with arctic fronts or through Alberta Clippers. Early next week though the models are indicating we could see our first major storm of the season for those snow starved areas.
Late in the weekend it appears a low pressure system will start to form around Louisiana and tap the plentiful gulf moisture available from the Gulf Of Mexico. As of now it appears this low will slowly move east/northeast towards the border of North Carolina and Virginia on the Atlantic shore. As it moves further north the storm will start to tap the moisture from the Atlantic Ocean as well. It appears areas as far south as the North Carolina/South Carolina border will stay cold enough for the majority of this event to be ice or snow due to a high pressure that will settle over southeast Canada.
The question at this point is , how strong will that high pressure be? This storm should start to erode the cold air that has been present over the eastern half of the country. If the high pressure remains too strong, the storm will be suppressed as several of the other recent systems have been with precipitation not making it north of the Mason-Dixon line. Yet, if it relaxing just enough, the storm could ride the coast, and the Northeast would join the Mid Atlantic in a significant snow storm.
At this point it is obviously too early to mention any idea on snowfall amounts, but the areas that look the most likely to see a significant snow event would be from central Virginia northeast towards the southern New Jersey shoreline. Again, this is without the storm riding the cost. If the high pressure relaxes enough to allow the low pressure to head up the coast instead of heading east off the North Carolina coast, then areas such as Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston could be some of the hardest hit areas by this storm. Models will continue to fluctuate, but we should have a better idea early this weekend and I will post an article with an update. By then many of the local news outlets in those areas though will most likely be taking note of this potential winter storm.