Snowstorms to deliver one-two punch to Midwest and Northeast this week
As the remainder of January is shaping up to be quite stormy in the Midwest and northeastern United States, one weak winter storm may hinder travel spanning Wednesday night to Friday, while a stronger winter storm may shut down travel this weekend.
The big storm that stretched for over 1,700 miles from the Rockies to the mid-Atlantic coast over the weekend was a sign of a more volatile weather pattern shaping up for the central and eastern U.S. However, while that cross-country storm focused on the Interstate 64 to 70 swath, the two new storms this week are likely to take aim farther north.
Light to moderate snowfall likely with late-week storm in Midwest, Northeast
The very next storm to sweep from the Plains to the Atlantic coast will be no powerhouse but will cause some travel problems.
The upcoming storm will put down a swath of accumulating snow from southern Iowa and northern Missouri during Wednesday night and from northern Illinois to southern Michigan and Southwest Ontario and much of western Pennsylvania on Thursday. An icy or wintry mix is forecast just south of the all-snow zone from northeastern Kansas southern Ohio and part of northern West Virginia.
During Thursday night the snow will streak from central Pennsylvania and central New York state to northern Massachusetts and New Hampshire. An icy mix is forecast from northern Virginia and central Maryland to southeastern Massachusetts.
On Friday, the storm is expected to finish up in Maine as all or mostly snow.
"Fast movement of the storm from Thursday to Friday should limit the accumulation with the first storm to a few inches in the snowfall area," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson.
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While enough snow may fall to cause school delays, dismissals and closures, it will be more on the nuisance end of the spectrum for winter storms. Motorists should expect slow and slippery travel along the Interstate 70, 80 and 90 corridors. Airline passengers should expect flight delays and some cancellations.
Major cities and corresponding airports in the direct path of the snowy part of storm later this week include Chicago, Detroit and Boston. New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Kansas City, Missouri, will be in the wintry mix zone.
More snow is likely this weekend as a larger and more potent storm takes shape following the storm late this week.
Major winter storm likely to bury parts of Midwest, Northeast this weekend
The storm coming this weekend has the potential to put down close to a foot of snow over a long swath in the Midwest and Northeast.
Blizzard conditions are likely to unfold in parts of the central Plains and perhaps the Midwest with the storm this weekend.
"The wake of the storm on Thursday and Friday, combined with extensive snow cover now may be to cause the storm that follows to track farther south than our indicators suggest," according to AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok.
Storms like to travel along zones with big temperature changes over short distances and that zone may be farther south than if there was not so much snow on the ground over the Midwest and mid-Atlantic.
"It's possible the storm this coming weekend may not cut toward the Great Lakes as suggested by computer models, but may take more of a west-to-east track, similar to last weekend's storm, but a bit farther north," Pastelok said.
While the track is not set in stone, the storm this weekend has the potential to produce heavy snow in the swath from I-70 to I-80 and I-90.
This means that several inches or more of snow, enough to shovel and plow, may fall on New York City; Chicago; Milwaukee; Detroit; Boston; Pittsburgh; Indianapolis; Omaha, Nebraska; Des Moines, Iowa; St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri.
A storm targeting all or most of these hubs and highways with moderate to heavy snow would cause major disruptions to travel and daily activities this weekend.
While a swath of wintry mix where both snow and rain can fall is likely with this storm, the amount and location of ice will depend on the track of the storm and how thick or shallow the layer of cold air in place becomes.
"Exactly where the northern edge of the rain area ends up with the weekend storm may play a pivotal role in the potential for urban flooding problems as there is a substantial amount of snow on the ground in St. Louis, Cincinnati and Washington, D.C.," according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Courtney Travis.
"Should the storm this weekend bring mostly rain to areas that still have heavy snow on the ground in the I-64 corridor, there may be significant flooding," Travis said.
Both storms are expected to bring all or mostly rain from southeastern Kansas to northern Tennessee, North Carolina and southeastern Virginia.
A few thunderstorms may rumble through the Deep South, but a severe weather outbreak is not expected at this time for the upcoming weekend.
Brutal cold to sweep the nation as stormy pattern continues in long range
"In the wake of the weekend storm, much colder, Arctic air is projected to plunge southward across the eastern half of the nation and reach the Gulf Coast states with freezing temperatures," Pastelok said.
AccuWeather's long-range team has been alerting its followers of abnormally cold weather for the latter part of January to February in its winter forecast issued months earlier.
People who have been saving money on heat during the first part of this winter may see that savings wiped out in the upcoming pattern, AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said.
Snow removal crews are likely to be busy and expect some more snow days across the Midwest and Northeast through the end of January and into February as the pattern appears be loaded with the potential for major winter storms.
Some communities and highway departments may be hit hard with escalating costs related to the big winter storms.
There is the potential for these storms and others that follow over the next several weeks to cumulatively deposit a few feet of snow, where each of the storms manage to bring snow and not rain or a wintry mix. This is most likely from parts of the Midwest to the central Appalachians and New England by the middle of February.