Winter to keep its hold on northeastern US into early March
Although the howling biting winds ripping through the Northeast early this week will subside by midweek, a persistently cold and stormy weather pattern is expected to persist into early March.
An active storm track from the Pacific Ocean into the western United States has sent storm after storm eastward across the country this month.
There are no indications that this weather pattern will change until around the middle of March.
"A strong ridge of high pressure building into Alaska this week will send Arctic air first into the Plains during the first few days of March and then into the East by the third," AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok said.
How cold it gets in the East and how long that cold lasts will depend on the strength and magnitude of another area of high pressure building into the Southwest and central Rockies, Pastelok added.
With blasts of unseasonably cold air pouring into the Northeast every few days, any storm system that interacts with the cold could dump a swath of snow, sleet and/or freezing rain on the region.
RELATED: Freezing weather caused by polar vortex
The first of these systems will slide eastward from the Great Lakes region to southern New England from Wednesday into Thursday, spreading a swath of accumulating snow from Michigan to New York and southern New England.
Boston and Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, New York, could all receive several inches of snow from this system on Wednesday night.
Another weaker system may follow on its heels on Thursday night into Friday, but this system should track farther south and could bring a slippery coating to an inch or two of snow between northern Virginia and central Pennsylvania.
During the first two days of March, a much stronger system may track from the Plains to the Great Lakes and temporarily draw warmer air northward into the Northeast.
Thus, rain should be the dominate precipitation type in the Interstate-95 corridor and areas south of I-90.
This storm will form along the leading edge of the Arctic air mass diving southward into the northern Plains, and how strong it becomes will determine how much of that cold air spills eastward into the mid-Atlantic.
A stronger storm system would be able to draw the cold air farther south and east in its wake, while a weaker system would result in only modified arctic air reaching the East Coast.
Download the free AccuWeather app to see how cold it will get in your location over next two weeks.
In the system's wake, there is the potential for more wintry storms to attack areas from the Carolinas to the Northeast through the first 10 days of March.
"A storm system may try to come together across the Southeast and mid-Atlantic between March 4-6, and much of the mid-Atlantic could be facing snow or ice concerns," Pastelok warned.
In the wake of this system, the high pressure system over Alaska should begin to break down, weaken and slide southeastward into western Canada and the northern United States.
This breakdown in the pattern should signal the beginning of the end of winter across a good portion of the southern and eastern U.S.
Once this high shifts eastward and reaches the East Coast sometime around March 10, southwesterly winds on its back side should finally allow milder and more seasonable air to return to the eastern half of the nation.
One last storm may try to form before the warmer air arrives, but the timing and intensity of such a potential system remains vague at this point.
Regardless, energy demand will remain high across the northern and eastern half of the nation through the first week or two of March, and residents eager for spring will be forced to keep the snow shovels, coats and winter weather attire handy.
In addition, any bouts of wintry weather could cause widespread travel delays, power outages and an increasingly deep snowpack that could contribute to potential flooding issues later in March or April.
It is unlikely that cold air of this magnitude will revisit the central and eastern parts of the nation once the weather pattern reverses by the middle of March, but any prolonged stretches of dry weather could still be many weeks away.