There’s a major winter storm advisory out for the Northeastern United States right now, but if it will actually hit is another question.
“Someone is going to get a foot or more of snow,” says Chad Meyers, meteorologist for CNN.
He wasn’t sure exactly where the storm would hit the hardest, but he did say it would definitely happen.
According to Meyer’s reports, the storm is starting out with heavy rains in San Francisco. From there, it’s supposed to work its way east, across the United States, building up along the way until it hits the freezing line just above Atlanta. North of there, in Washington DC, Philadelphia, and New York, snow is supposed to hit on Friday and possibly last through the weekend. By Saturday, the entire Northeast is supposed to be covered in snow showers.
— The Weather Channel (@weatherchannel) January 18, 2016
It’s supposed to be enough snow that it will close roads and schools, cancel flights, and even cause power outages with the possible blizzard conditions and 35 mph winds. If this winter storm hits, it could be the first storm in 13 years to dump a full foot of snow on the entire Northeast area. If it happens, citizens of the Northeast megalopolis won’t be playing golf anytime soon.
If it happens.
There have been storm warnings just like this one forecasted to virtually shut down several Northeast areas with the threat of feet of snow and howling winds. But few of these storms have actually come through.
Meteorologists seem to believe that this storm will actually hit.
As Meyers said, “It is forecast by the American and European model to run right through the Northeast… Rarely three days or four days out do we get both models to agree.”
Even still, there’s a level of skepticism to be had here. The storm is just barely starting on the West Coast, nearly 3,000 miles away from where it’s projected to hit first on Friday. A lot can change in three days, and it often does.
According to the National Weather Service, there’s not as much to worry about as some of the meteorologists are making it sound.
“There is a moderate threat for a significant winter storm Friday into Saturday,” says the service.
Their statement makes it clear that this is not a severe threat, but if it hits, there will be major travel delays, wind, and drifting snow. There’s even a possibility for coastal flooding if everything this storm promises comes true.
Another CNN meteorologist, Judson Jones, admits that there’s a lot of room for error in a forecast that’s so far out.
“Timing and intensity will continue to change throughout the week,” he said. “The impacts could range from extensive to minimal.”
The computer models could also be fooled by the current location of the storm, according to Dr. Jeff Masters, a meteorologist contributor for Weather Underground.
“The disturbance is still in an area that is lacking the kind of surface and upper-air weather data that are found over land areas for the computer models to ingest,” he said. “Once the system reaches the West Coast later Tuesday it will finally be in an area where more of that data is available for computer models to use. This in turn may lead to a convergence of model scenarios towards a consensus, meaning, a “most likely” forecast.”
Like the National Weather Service, Masters is ruling out a surety that this storm will come. Both recognize that there are several major factors that go into creating a storm like that, and between Tuesday and Friday, such factors could change dramatically.
Even if this storm never shows up for the 50 million people of the Northeast, temperatures will be cold. In New York City, it’s supposed to remain in the teens with windchill to bring it down several more degrees. It may be miserable, but perhaps less miserable than if a winter storm was virtually shutting down the entire area.
[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]