Huge snow storm within the northeast together with Philadelphia, New York Metropolis
The same storm system has already brought eight inches of snow to Chicago and will drop a healthy dose of snow all the way to the Canadian border on Sunday.
The low pressure area, which will bring the heavy snowfall, high winds and the potential for coastal flooding to the northeast, will organize itself on Sunday in the mid-Atlantic region where snow fell in the country’s capital. Washington was ready to get more snow in one day than the city saw in two winters.
The winter storm has historically produced fierce weather in the Lower 48 and last week drove an atmospheric river ashore for the first time in California, with extreme snow totals over 100 inches in the Sierra Nevada. From there, severe thunderstorms brought severe thunderstorms to the southwestern desert and tornado activity to Oklahoma, while a subsequent dust storm caused visibility to drop in parts of Texas on Saturday.
Now the main low pressure area is transferring its energy offshore into a coastal system, also known as the nor’easter, which will intensify and move northward along the coast.
From the mountains of North Carolina to southwest Connecticut, winter storm warnings for heavy snowfall have been in effect, while the clocks extend to the far north of Maine.
The storm is rising in the northeast as steady snow moves out of the DC area
It is likely that the snow will hit Philadelphia at 4 or 5 p.m. on Sunday. The snowfall rate increases rapidly as the offshore low pressure system begins to strengthen. Until late in the evening, moderate to heavy snowfall can be expected there. Numerous computer models show that an extremely strong snow band forms between Philadelphia and Rhode Island from Sunday evening to Monday.
There is a possibility that milder ocean air, drawn inland by the counterclockwise winds around the low pressure center, will turn Philadelphia into mixed rainfall, including sleet or freezing rain, in the early hours of Monday morning before the rainfall changes to rain and temporarily ends. Immediately before this changeover, the snow falls at its heaviest, with a snowfall rate of at least an inch per hour.
In New York, the snow will arrive late Sunday evening, with heavy snowfall and possible thunderstorms in the morning hours on Monday. However, there is considerable uncertainty about a possible switch to a winter mix or rain around noon.
In that case, the snowfall would pile up to just over a foot. If the switch doesn’t happen, however, larger clusters are likely to be expected in the Big Apple – possibly on the order of 18 inches or closer to two feet.
The National Weather Service has placed New York in the Level 5 of 5 “Extreme Impact” zone on its Outlook map and cited the potential for “extreme disturbance of daily life”.
Most of the surrounding tri-state area can expect “large impacts” from the storm system, potentially causing blockbuster snowfalls. Boston is also going to be a heavy-impact storm off the immediate coast, with well over a foot of snow inland.
One particular high-resolution computer model known as the North American Model (NAM) suggests that cold air would remain anchored in New York for the duration of the event. During the day on Sunday, other computer models matched the projections of this model and showed a possibly historic snow storm there.
Such heavy snowfall could close the city’s streets and cancel flights at the region’s major airports.
“Despite the fact that we are forecasting up to 18 inches of snow, these numbers are conservative if you trust the NAM,” wrote the National Weather Service in New York. “The NAM suggests that 2 feet is appropriate for this event that has the heaviest band building and that is mostly snow.”
- If New York were to take 19.8 inches or more in 48 hours, it would qualify as one of the 10 heaviest snowfalls in the city.
- The top spot of 27.5 inches will be held by the storm from January 22-23, 2016.
Regardless, the amount of snowfall varies significantly depending on where the narrow corridors with the heaviest snowfall, known as bands of snow, are established and blocked. In the heaviest bands, snowfall rates of one to two inches per hour or more are likely. Eastern Pennsylvania is also likely to have a lot of snow, including in Harrisburg and Allentown in the east and in the western suburbs of Philadelphia.
There is a chance that locations in northern New Jersey could see more than three feet of snow as moisture from the Atlantic Ocean is drawn westward directly into the much colder air.
The snow will subside overnight Monday through Tuesday, but light snow is likely to be well into the afternoon for most of Tuesday morning.
The snow jackpot can occur in New York City as it also encompasses the southern Hudson Valley and most of central and eastern Pennsylvania.
Providence to Boston: A Predicted Mystery
In Hartford, Connecticut, the snow should pile up to 6 to 12 inches, with the potential for higher totals.
Further northeast, in the Providence to Boston corridor, meteorologists were struggling to predict the tricky rain-snow line. Snow will arrive there on Monday morning, with the steadiest and heaviest precipitation falling overnight before falling on Tuesday morning.
During the storm, the rain-snow line near Interstate 95 can wobble back and forth, with a touch of mixing possible in Boston and Providence, RI, although mostly snow falls. For Massachusetts’ South Shore, Upper Cape, Plymouth, and Bristol counties, a rapid blizzard will give way primarily to rain.
Storm totals of 12 to 18 inches are expected west of Boston, with the largest wild card being the amounts in Boston itself and along the immediate coast. With onshore winds of up to 60 miles per hour, high waves and coastal flooding also affect the New England coastline, leading to the potential for flooding of vulnerable areas.
The storm is even expected to spread snow into northern New England, benefiting the ski resorts in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
Conditions will improve later on Wednesday before it gets milder by the end of the week.