[Mid-day US surface weather map with very strong Arctic high pressure centered right over the Mid-Atlantic; courtesy NOAA]
Overview The weekend begins with very strong Arctic high pressure sitting right on top of the Mid-Atlantic region (surface map above) assuring us plenty of sunshine today along with light winds. Atmospheric pressure readings at mid-day are as high as 30.85 inches (1045 millibars) in parts of the Mid-Atlantic region associated with this very dense and cold Arctic air mass. The combination of this entrenched dense, cold dome of Arctic air and moisture streaming in from the west on Sunday spells big trouble for the DC, Philly and NYC metro regions with accumulating snow or a significant buildup of ice or both real threats as we close out the weekend.
Details As the high pressure shifts off the east coast on Sunday, a warm advection pattern will set up with light snow likely to break out in the pre-dawn hours across western and central portions of the Mid-Atlantic region. During the mid-morning to late-morning hours, snow is likely to break out in the I-95 corridor and it will likely change to a wintry mix in the DC metro region after a few hours, but not before there is a coating to an inch or two of new snow accumulations. The snow will continue for a longer time period across SE PA with 2-4 inches likely before any changeover and areas to the north of I-80 are probably the luckiest of all as the snow up there could hang on for most or all of this upcoming precipitation event; thereby reducing chances up there for any serious ice buildup. The New York City metro region should receive several hours of snowfall before any changeover takes place with 3-5 inches of accumulation possible in that area. The period of icing following the initial “thumping” of snow can produce a significant buildup of ice later Sunday into Sunday night; especially, in the region from the N and W suburbs of DC to the N and W suburbs of Philly. All precipitation winds down in the pre-dawn hours early Monday and the rest of the day remains cold and becomes quite breezy.
“Banding” possibility could enhance snow (or ice) totals in parts of the area One final word of caution on tomorrow’s event…there will be impressive upward motion at mid-levels of the atmosphere centered around northeastern Maryland and southeastern Pennsylvania late in the day. The 12Z NAM forecast map (below) for early tomorrow evening shows this area of mid-level upward motion (850 millbar absolute vorticity) centered near the eastern part of the Mason-Dixon Line. Often times with this kind of concentrated upward motion, there can be “banding” that sets up in the precipitation field and this could lead to enhanced snowfall (or ice) amounts in a short period of time over parts of the area…something to watch for later tomorrow.
[12Z NAM forecast map of 850 millibar absolute vorticity early Sunday night; courtesy NOAA]
Another interesting and complicated threat at mid-week Another complicated weather pattern is setting up for the I-95 corridor for the time period from later Tuesday into Thursday. Precipitation ahead of yet another strong Arctic cold frontal system is likely to arrive Tuesday afternoon and it could start as a wintry mix in the I-95 corridor. However, as milder air pumps in from the south ahead of the front, the precipitation is very likely to change to plain rain for Tuesday night into early Wednesday and some of the rainfall can be on the heavy side. Temperatures could actually climb into the 50’s in portions of the I-95 corridor during the day Wednesday before colder air returns to the region. The Arctic cold frontal system may then stall out as it reaches the east coast on Wednesday night and there is a chance that low pressure develops along the frontal boundary zone and rides up along it right into the I-95 corridor - and into the incoming colder air. If indeed this takes place, it could very well turn cold enough for significant accumulating snow around here sometime in the late Wednesday night/Thursday time frame. Stay tuned.