Widespread snow showers, cold to target Midwest and Northeast this weekend
Progressively colder air will lead to the first snowflakes and snowfall of the season, as well as the first freeze in parts of the Great Lakes, Northeast and neighboring Canada this weekend.
Following warm weather during the past six weeks, some people spending time outdoors will be shivering this weekend. The accompanying frost and freeze can damage plants that are still thriving due to the recent warmth.
This is not the type of setup to bring feet or even inches of snow to the majority of the snow belts to the lee of the Great Lakes; instead a rain/snow mix is expected across many areas. There will still be a few locations that get enough snow to potentially be disruptive.
The rain and snow showers could be accompanied by thunder and lightning, especially areas close to the lakeshore. Waterspouts are possible from Lake Superior to lakes Erie and Ontario.
Measurable snow is not coming to areas where most people live.
According to AccuWeather Meteorologist Steve Travis, "Accumulating snow will not occur in areas close to the lakes or at elevations below 1,000 feet." Higher elevations are the regions most likely to see a coating of snow.
Most of the slushy accumulation will be on non-paved surfaces.
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As a reinforcing surge of colder air presses southeastward into Saturday night, cold rain, a mix of rain and snow and wet snow showers are likely to spread from the Great Lakes to the interior Northeast. This will be the most likely time for snowflakes to make it to hilly areas of northeastern Ohio, the mountains of western and northern Pennsylvania, lower elevations of upstate New York and central and northern New England.
Snow will accumulate on the canopy of trees in some locations.
"People in areas across the ski country of New York, central New York and northwestern Pennsylvania could wake up to a coating of snow Sunday morning," Travis said.
Some of the mountains southeast of lakes Erie and Ontario could get enough snow accumulation on the trees for a few branches to come down.
According to AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams, "There could be sporadic power outages, where leaves have remained on the trees in the higher elevations and the snow weighs down the branches."
The mountains of northern New England are the places most likely for sporadic power outages and trees blocking secondary roads in the higher elevations.
In portions of northern Maine, New Brunswick and the eastern townships of Quebec, the potential exists for a few inches of snow in some locations into Sunday.
Snow this early is not exceptionally unusual.
"For example, in Buffalo, New York, the average date for the first snowflakes is Oct. 24 and the earliest some sort of frozen precipitation has fallen was on Sept. 20," Travis said.
Parts of northern New England have already received their first flakes of the season.
A frost will also visit the southern Appalachians.
In areas from the Midwest to the Northeast, there can be a frost or freeze both Saturday night and Sunday night. In the Midwest, Saturday night may be the colder of the two nights. In the Northeast, Sunday night will be the colder night.
For places that normally have a frost or freeze by the middle of October, take precautions this weekend to protect vulnerable plants, harvest vegetables that are ripe, empty bird baths and drain water out of garden hoses.
During the showers of rain and snow, as well as cloudy intervals during the day, actual temperatures can plummet 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit.
AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures will spend a considerable amount of time in the 30s from the upper Great Lakes to northern New England during the daylight hours. Even farther south from the Ohio Valley to the mid-Atlantic coast, daytime RealFeel Temperatures will be several degrees lower than the actual temperature during cloudy intervals or in shady areas.
Following the building chill into this weekend, another warmup is in store during the first part of next week.
According to AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams, "The first stage of the anticipated El Niño winter weather pattern will follow later next week in the Central and Eastern states."
AccuWeather has more on the El Niño pattern coming to the U.S. this winter.
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