While the Blizzard of 2018 remains a fresh memory for many in the Eastern United States, meteorologists are tracking a complicated weather pattern that is expected to spawn another significant winter storm in the northeastern United States at the end of the week. Confidence is high that a period of milder weather will be followed by a significant winter storm, which itself will be followed by another Arctic blast. But confidence in the details of what kind of precipitation and where remains very low with limited weather data to work with.
Later tomorrow into Thursday, a surface high located in the Eastern United States will shift off-shore, bringing an increasingly southern flow up the coast. This atmospheric change will set up a warm air advection pattern resulting in much milder temperatures. Synoptic scale lift is limited through this period, especially as a mid level short wave ridge moves over the region. However, the warm air advection, coupled with some orographic lift could be enough to produce very light precipitation for portions of the Mid Atlantic and Northeast on Wednesday night. But by Thursday, the warm advection will be in full effect, bringing rain into southern New England. North of there, where cold air will be stubborn to leave, freezing rain, sleet, or plain snow is expected.
Later Thursday and Friday, a cold front is forecast to move into the area. Some data suggests a second storm system will form along this front. And the eventual storm track of such a storm system will play a huge role in who gets what kinds of precipitation. The track of that eventual storm will be directly influenced by a system moving into the western United States today and tomorrow. Until that influence is clearly understood, there will be many questions and much doubt in the forecast for the northeast on Friday and Saturday.
It is within the realm of possibilities that another major winter storm could impact the I-95 corridor once again, with the greatest chance of that happening on Saturday. It is also possible that the storm may track further closer to the coast, which would restrict heavy snow to interior New England. It is simply too early to know with certainty how this storm system will evolve to know specific impacts.
While the evolution of the end-week storm remains questionable, one thing is nearly certain: whatever happens this weekend will be followed by another Arctic blast. Sunday and Monday temperatures will plunge back to normal or below-normal levels, putting a deep freeze in an area experiencing a thaw this week.
As part of that reinforcing cold blast of air, a Clipper system may bring another round of light snow to an area that saw a very similar set-up between Christmas and New Year’s Day in the northeast. Specifics of that storm will be sorted out once the Friday/Saturday storm is better understood.