Although the East Coast has certainly seen enough of Old Man Winter this season, with a historic snowfall that dumped over 40 inches of snow in late January in parts of Appalachia, as well as a major ice event that hit most major east coast cities early last week, there is a possibility that winter is not quite through wreaking havoc in that part of the country.
Meteorologists are notoriously mum about the subject until they are relatively certain a significant snow or other weather will impact the area. That’s because their storm tracking global positioning satellites that pick up radar all differ slightly, and even a hundred mile difference in storm track could be the difference between snow and rain.
With the historical January snow, although GPS was predicting some type of event more than a week out, meteorologists were not certain about type, intensity or even amount until a day to hours before it hit. While they did predict a major event, they predicted around 24 inches of snow for Martinsburg, West Virginia, in the Allegheny Mountains, but the town ended up with 41 inches of paralyzing snow that closed schools and many businesses for a week.
Although a brief February thaw is expected this weekend, with some areas of the North East/Middle Atlantic region experiencing temperatures in the 60s, a weak cold front is predicted to come through in the middle of next week which may produce significant instability in the weather pattern, with meteorologists predicting anything from thunderstorms, gusty winds, tornadoes, heavy rain, and yes, heavy snow – for places that were hard hit in January. This storm is still approximately three thousand miles away, which adds difficulty to weather types and predicted rain and snow amounts. The storm is currently just off the coast of Japan, according to tracking models, so timing of landfall in the United States is the major factor in the determination of what type of precipitation is expected and how much.
In areas of the east coast that have already been hit hard this winter, many coastal regions have sustained serious flooding and damage from wind. In other areas, snow removal equipment and funds have been utilized heavily, so additional demand may cause serious problems. Many schools and universities are already having to find ways to “make up” for lost time due to snow, since usually only three days are allotted for many areas, and some towns have already tripled that allotment.
According to Accuweather, Enterprise Solutions Storm Warning Meteorologist Alex Avalos is also concerned that conditions could favor a few tornadoes to touch down in areas still cleaning up from a month ago – along with a mixed bag of heavy rain and heavy snow, but where that line will be is difficult to say this far out from a timing perspective.
While the exact track and strength of each storm will determine the extent and duration of the severe weather danger, many areas from the central Gulf Coast to Florida and the coastal Carolinas are on preparedness alert for potentially violent thunderstorms, which could include hail and tornadoes from Monday night to Wednesday night. Areas north of the Carolinas could see major snowfall, but meteorologists are not predicting how much yet since the actual track of the disturbance has yet to be confirmed, with different weather models showing different events in terms of storm time and course.
All meteorologists agree, however, that the relatively mild weekend the east coast is experiencing will be short lived and should be used to prepare for the possibility of major storm impacts beginning the middle of this week.
[AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh]