Friday, March 20, marks the first full day of spring, but Old Man Winter may pay a visit to the northeastern United States in the form of snow during the first part of the coming week.
Millions of Americans might think the idea of winter weather is just a joke after the snow drought that parts of the Northeast have experienced this year. However, there's even a chance, if a storm materializes, that some cities could end up getting more snow during spring than the entire winter season.
"The old man may be serious this time with the potential for a few inches of snow, mainly over interior locations, just when millions may have thought that spring had a stranglehold on the region," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson said.
The setup is likely to unfold as a double-barreled storm system taking aim at the region, according to AccuWeather forecasters.
The first storm will travel from the lower Mississippi Valley on Sunday to the eastern part of the Ohio Valley on Monday. However, a second storm is forecast to develop along the North Carolina coast during Monday and travel northeastward, just off the mid-Atlantic and New England coasts from late Monday to Tuesday morning.
Just enough cold air is expected to linger from this weekend to allow the primary form of precipitation to occur in the form of snow from the mountains of West Virginia and northwestern Virginia to central New England.
"If the coastal storm rapidly strengthens, then there is the potential for a narrow corridor of heavy snow, especially over the higher elevations from Pennsylvania to central New England," Anderson said.
The majority of the accumulation will be on grassy and elevated surfaces. The snow may come down hard enough to cause road conditions to transition from wet to slushy to snow-covered. Areas most likely to become slippery would be bridges, overpasses and areas that do not receive direct sunlight, such as the north side of buildings and gaps in the mountains.
Temperatures are likely to be too high for much snow along the Interstate-95 corridor of the mid-Atlantic, as well as the immediate southern coast of New England. However, wet snow can mix in with rain at times. Even if mostly snow were to fall in these urban coastal areas, much of it would melt on paved and concrete surfaces.
"It probably will not be cold enough to support accumulating snow in the I-95 mid-Atlantic and the southern New England coast, but as the storm moves away Monday night, the rain may end as a period of wet snow," Anderson said.
There is the remote chance that the coastal storm to strengthen and track in such a way as to bring a period of heavy snow to the I-95 mid-Atlantic and southern New England areas.
"The chance of accumulating snow around New York City and Philadelphia is probably on the order of 10%," AccuWeather Meteorologist Dean DeVore said.
It could be a different story not too far to the north though.
"The Massachusetts Turnpike could be a real mess the way things look now from Monday night to early Tuesday," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Joe Lundberg said.
If the coastal storm remains weak or does not hug the coast, then light, non-accumulating snow or even rain may fall throughout the Northeast.
"At least for those over the interior Northeast, it is not quite time yet to put away the shovels and snowblowers," Anderson said. "Despite that spring will have officially gotten underway, it is still March and March has offered plenty of winter storms in the past."
The snowstorm was no joke for television comedian Ben Wrigley who has to shovel show away from his car on Central Park West at 61st Street in New York, March 20, 1956. The staggering snow-clearing job got underway in the city following the 24-hour blizzard. (AP Photo/Jacob Harris)
There have been accumulating snow events in New York City well into April, for example. A storm on April 7, 2003, brought several inches of snow to the New York City area.
Accumulating snow on roads has occurred during the middle of March in the Big Apple as recently as 2018.
A New York City Parks Department employee uses a snowblower to clear a path after a snowstorm on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, Thursday, March 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Winter 2019-20 will end Thursday at 11:50 p.m. EDT with a total of only 4.8 inches in New York City, a mere 20% of the normal seasonal snowfall to date.
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