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Old Man Winter to throw multiple storms at Midwest into next week

By Alex Sosnowski • Feb 9, 2019 at 1:42 PM

Soon after cold air becomes established in the Midwest and Northeast to end this week, at least two storms with some snow and ice will bring difficult travel and are likely to prompt school delays and closings in the span of a few days.

The storms from later this weekend through the middle of next week will create travel problems, even where rain falls.


First storm spread snow from west to east Saturday night to early Monday

The first storm will be the weaker of the two but may be the snowiest for many locations. However, because of that, it is the less likely of the two to pull warm air up from the south very far.

"Since the storm late this past week washed away much of the salt from the roads, crews may have to work extra hard reapplying ice melting compounds in this extensive area of snow forecast," according to AccuWeather chief meteorologist Elliot Abrams.

"Roads and sidewalks might be slipperier than you would normally expect from a light snowfall at this point of the winter and motorists, pedestrians and property owners should plan accordingly," Abrams said.

Just enough snow, a general 1-3 inches, may fall along the Interstate 70 and I-80 corridors to create slippery travel from the Plains to near the mid-Atlantic coast.

The snow will cross the northern Rockies on Saturday and reach parts of the High Plains Saturday night.

During Sunday, the snow is forecast to spread from northern Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, southern Minnesota and northern Missouri to central and northern Ohio and the southern and central parts of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan.

Cities that may receive a light snowfall include Omaha, Nebraska; Des Moines, Iowa; Chicago; Milwaukee; Indianapolis; Detroit; and Columbus, Ohio; during the latter part of this weekend.

A wintry mix of snow, freezing rain, sleet and plain rain, with a coating to an inch of accumulation, will extend from southeastern Missouri to along the Ohio River with plain rain farther south.

From Sunday night to early Monday, the snow is projected to continue to shift eastward but may take a more narrow swath through Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia, northern Maryland, the southern tier of New York state, New Jersey and northern Delaware.

Pittsburgh and Philadelphia may receive enough to coat roads. It is possible that accumulating snow extends as far north as New York City and the southern New England coast.

The wintry mix will extend from Charleston, West Virginia, to Harrisonburg, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Dover, Delaware, and Cape May, New Jersey.

The air may be too dry to allow much more than flurries across the upper Great Lakes, upstate New York and the rest of New England during the first storm.


Second storm to be stronger, warmer and cut toward Great Lakes

The second storm of next week is forecast to be significantly stronger, more complex and may travel well to the north in the cold air with heavy precipitation.

"In the Midwest, the second storm will be primarily from Monday to Tuesday evening," according to AccuWeather senior meteorologist Brett Anderson.

"In the Northeast, the second storm may begin as early as Monday night in the central Appalachians but will occur mainly from Tuesday to early Wednesday," Anderson said.

Rain is forecast to linger between both storms from the southern Plains to the Tennessee Valley from late this weekend to early next week. As the second storm moves in next week, enough rain may fall to aggravate the flooding situation from Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky to the southern portions of Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.

Since the second storm may take a more northward track, any snow and ice to start over the I-70 and I-80 corridors of the Midwest are likely to change to rain.

However, there may still be several hours of wintry precipitation and wintry travel conditions from I-80 to Chicago and Detroit. Near or just north of these two cities, the changeover could be delayed or may not take place at all.

Warm air will not have a chance to sneak in over parts of the central and northern Plains. Blizzard conditions could occur in parts of Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and part of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

At the end of the midweek storm, there may be more than 2 feet of snow on the ground in parts of the northern Plains and the upper Great Lakes region, including the Minneapolis area. This is factoring in the snowfall from the storm from this past Thursday.


Risk of a major ice storm over the interior Northeast

Farther east, Arctic high pressure will linger over New England and not quickly exit by way of the mid-Atlantic coast.

So despite the rapid warmup suggestion by a storm cutting toward the Great Lakes, a period of heavy snow and a substantial buildup of ice can occur in parts of the Northeast.

"There may be several inches of snow from parts of southern Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York state to Massachusetts prior to any change to ice and rain," Abrams said.

Ultimately, people in northern New England should expect a foot of snow from this storm spanning later Tuesday to early Wednesday.

In this case, a wedge of below-freezing air may hold in parts of the central Appalachians, Piedmont and other parts of the Northeast.

Ice may continue to glaze surfaces far south as western Virginia and central Maryland, but more likely across parts of central Pennsylvania, upstate New York and interior New England through the height of the storm.

Whether the ice occurs as mostly as sleet versus freezing rain will determine whether or not there are widespread power outages. Sleet bounces off trees, while freezing rain adheres to the limbs and weighs them down.

A rather quick warmup would still occur farther south and along the mid-Atlantic and southern New England coasts. However, there would still likely be a period of wintry mix that makes for slow and slippery travel from Washington, D.C., to Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, Boston and Hartford, Connecticut.

Ultimately, the exact track of both storms will determine the northern extent of the plain rain area and the northern edge of the snow and ice. 

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