Potentially major snowstorm to threaten New England at midweek
Before the worst Arctic outbreak so far this winter sweeps into the northeastern United States, a potentially major snowstorm may eye a large portion of New England around midweek.
The snowstorm threat is being preceded by snow showers and heavier squalls pressing across the Northeast's interior on Sunday.
Motorists planning to travel on stretches of interstates 80, 81, 86, 87, 88, 90 should use extreme caution and leave ample space between other vehicles. Snow squalls are notorious for causing chain-reaction accidents by producing whiteouts and quickly coating roads.
After the squalls depart the Northeast, the same storm system set to bring heavy snow and travel disruptions to the Midwest into Monday will weaken as it tracks toward the eastern Great Lakes and northern mid-Atlantic by Monday night.
However, a strong cold front extending southward from the storm will penetrate the whole way to the central Gulf Coast.
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It is along the tail end of this front that a second storm system may form later Monday night and strengthen as it tracks rapidly northeastward toward eastern New England by Tuesday night.
Latest indications continue to suggest that the storm will develop, but there is still a great deal of uncertainty as to the system’s extract track, intensity and its potential interaction with the first system.
“A stronger storm can lead to a more significant snowstorm dropping 6 inches or more from northern Pennsylvania to northern New England from Monday night into Wednesday,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said.
A weaker storm could lead to less snow for areas from the Deep South to the mid-Atlantic, but northern New England would still likely face heavy, wind-swept snow.
“While the snow will be a boon to the ski industry, travel can become extremely slow and difficult in these areas,” Pydynowski added.
"Blizzard conditions may even develop in northern New England," according to AccuWeather Chief Video Meteorologist Bernie Rayno.
Snow will first spread into the central Appalachians and northern mid-Atlantic later Monday night into Tuesday before expanding, intensifying and moving into northeastern Pennsylvania, northern New Jersey and eastern New York Tuesday afternoon and evening.
The heaviest snow will wait until Tuesday night before reaching New England and will take until Wednesday afternoon or evening to exit the region.
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How quickly the storm strengthens will determine whether 6 or more inches of snow can fall from West Virginia and Maryland to Pennsylvania and New York, or if these areas only receive a few inches.
It is in western Massachusetts and much of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine that at least 6 to 12 inches of snow appears most likely.
In the Interstate-95 cities from Boston to New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., a brief spike in temperatures is expected to cause precipitation to start as rain before a changeover to snow Tuesday night.
If the cold air catches up to the back edge of the rain quickly, then a few inches of snow can turn the I-95 corridor into a skating rink by Wednesday morning. Residents may only have a short window to clear any slush as the harshest Arctic outbreak this winter freezes everything solid by Wednesday morning.
Depending on the amount of snowfall, many schools may be forced to delay start times or even close on Wednesday.
Even if only a small amount of snow falls, pedestrians will have to use extra caution in parking lots and on sidewalks as any snow, slush or wet spots quickly turn to ice Wednesday morning.
Motorists traveling through the storm will likely face major delays and may need to allot several extra hours to reach their travel destinations.
Lengthy airport delays may not only be felt imminently in many of the major cities of the I-95 corridor, but also throughout a large portion of the country.
As the system intensifies in New England, gusty winds will both accompany and follow the snowstorm and lead to localized whiteouts, ground blizzards and power outages.
It may take a long time for any snow that falls from the system to melt as AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures dip to dangerously low levels by the middle of the week, producing a whole new array of hazards.