If it feels like winter has been serving up more wild weather than usual lately, that’s because it has been. According to AccuWeather meteorologists, this recent frosty stretch of snow, ice and frigid temps has been the most active winter weather pattern across the country likely since the mid-1990s. And that pattern is not letting up as several weather systems are lining up and threatening more snow and ice for the Midwest and Northeast through the end of next week.
Winter storms could arrive every two to three days amid the tumultuous pattern, which is due in part to a major buckling of the jet stream. The river of high winds aloft plunged southward over the central United States then swung up along the Atlantic coast in recent days, setting the path for storms to ride along. That active storm track will be fueled by the collision of Arctic air sprawling across the middle of the nation and milder air holding its ground in the Southeast.
Two systems will come into play during the next storm late this week into this weekend, including on Valentine’s Day in the Northeast. One storm was already sweeping across Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa and northern Kansas with light to moderate snow on Friday. This storm and its snow will continue to shift eastward across the Midwest during Friday night and Saturday. Meanwhile, a secondary storm is expected to push northward up the Eastern Seaboard this weekend.
“Both weekend systems are forecast to remain weak with the snow portion of the precipitation on the nuisance end of the spectrum,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist John Feerick said. “But even a light amount of snow and especially a thin coating of ice can lead to dangerous travel conditions.”
In general, 1-3 inches of snow is expected from eastern Wyoming to the to the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, but heavier amounts of 3-6 inches will occur across eastern Wyoming, southwestern South Dakota and Nebraska, where an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 8 inches is predicted.
“Chicago is another spot where heavier snow on the order of 3-6 inches can occur from Friday night to Saturday due some enhancement from Lake Michigan,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Courtney Travis said.
A few additional pockets of 3-6 inches of snow can develop around the Great Lakes as well.
The snow in this 1,500-mile-long swath will be light and fluffy due to the Arctic air in place. This type of snow can be highly subject to blowing and drifting in a mere breeze amid the frigid conditions.
Farther to the east, most of the moisture associated with the storm pushing northward along the Atlantic Seaboard may stay out to sea.
Snowfall accumulations of 1 to 3 inches are expected from part of northern Virginia to Maine Saturday into Sunday, but as with any storm, pockets of somewhat heavier snow can develop with the risk of a few places ending up with 3-6 inches.
“Snow over much of this zone may be intermittent, where the rate of snow varies and even stops for a time,” AccuWeather Senior Storm Warning Meteorologist Brian Wimer said.
Milder air will cause a wintry mix that includes some ice to develop from portions of middle Tennessee to southern Ohio and southwestern West Virginia as well as from northwestern North Carolina to much of Virginia. The icy mix will expand over the Interstate-95 corridor and coastal areas of the East from central Maryland to southeastern New England.
Some areas struck by a major ice storm that cut power and led to treacherous travel late this week could once again get more ice from this storm.
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SOURCE: Accu Weather, Alex Sosnowski