Travel outlook on Friday. Photo from Accuweather.com
Dec. 18 (UPI) — AccuWeather meteorologists say the chances are increasing for a major storm of snow, rain, strong winds and freezing temperatures in the days leading up to Christmas over the central and eastern United States.
The massive system will coincide with a blast of Arctic air that will send temperatures into freezing levels over the holiday weekend and could be one of the most intense and prolonged spells of cold air in decades over Christmas.
The timing of the storm couldn’t be worse given the increased number of travelers leading up to Christmas, as well as the pressure retailers and shipping companies face to keep shelves stocked and items on track for delivery.
Snow during at least part of the storm is likely to extend from parts of the southern Plains into the Midwest, Northeast, and possibly the interior southeastern states Thursday through Saturday.
AccuWeather’s team of long-range meteorologists, led by Senior Meteorologist Paul Pastelok, not only looks at computer models, but also examines existing global weather patterns, known as teleconnections. The team has been closely monitoring this storm’s potential and the geographic area at risk since early December.
“At this time, there is every indication to believe that a major storm will develop and track from somewhere over the south central states to the northeast,” Pastelok said.
Track is the key to which areas end up with the heaviest snow, but belief is also growing that even a small to moderate amount of snow when combined with falling temperatures and strong winds will lead to a quick freeze and poor travel. slippery from parts of the lower Mississippi Valley to Midwestern and Northeastern states.
This means that cities such as St.
“This is the type of setup that could lead to a landfall in parts of the central states,” AccuWeather senior long-range meteorologist Joe Lundberg said as he considered the potential intensity of the storm, the arrival of Arctic air and the terrain of wide open in the Region.
“This storm is likely to become intense, fueled by the extremely sharp contrast between rising Arctic air coming from the Central States and relatively warm air across the southeastern US,” said AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Jon Porter. “Major East Coast storms over the decades have occurred in this type of organization, bringing the risk of heavy snow and rain, strong winds, coastal flooding, severe thunderstorms and even tornadoes to the south side of the storm.”
AccuWeather Chief On-Air Meteorologist Bernie Rayno has summarized the main impacts of the upcoming storm and cold snap this week.
One such key component will be the storm’s complex structure. For example, one storm center could move toward the Great Lakes and a second storm center could form over the Appalachians or just along the Atlantic coast later this week. This could allow dangerous winter weather to develop over a particularly large area, making the impacts around the Christmas holiday even worse.
Secondary storm formation could be a determining factor in the primary form of precipitation expected in the major metro areas of Washington, DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston. At this time, at least some snow or a wintry mix is still on the table for these locations for part of the storm.
“The exact track of the storm will dictate which areas will receive heavy snow versus heavy rain and the most significant impacts, but people and businesses in the eastern US, especially those traveling, should be extra vigilant and to check AccuWeather’s forecasts frequently this week to stay up-to-date on expected impacts,” added Porter.
Even places on the warmer eastern side of the storm may not be completely out of the woods when it comes to winter weather. With Arctic, cold air flowing in quickly, temperatures could drop significantly as the storm progresses, potentially turning any rain into snow. Just when and where this happens depends on the exact intensity of the storm.
For those who find themselves with some added flexibility in terms of time available for travel or shopping, forecasters say it may be helpful to adjust some plans before the peak of the storm hits later this week and into the weekend. of Christmas. The sheer scope and intensity of the storm has the potential to leave people stranded on highways and at airports. Even if an airport is not in the main target area of the storm, delays at other travel hubs can cause a cascading effect if aircraft and crews are displaced.
While the storm may initially delay the arrival of very cold air along the Eastern Seaboard, the cold air will likely sink southeast behind the storm system. Those who will be away from home around Christmas may want to take precautions to avoid freezing their pipes and possible water damage even in parts of the Interstate 20 and 10 corridors of the south central and southeastern states, experts say.
AccuWeather’s team of more than 100 meteorologists will continue to fine-tune the forecast for this developing storm system in the coming days.