The National Weather Service has issued Winter Storm Watches across portions of the northeast ahead of a storm system that’ll bring significant snow and ice to an area that’s seen plenty of both in recent weeks. And like other storms this season, this storm will feature a variety of precipitation types which could leave some areas with a dangerous accumulation of ice.
A complex weather system is to blame for the wintry weather. With cold air in place, a primary low pressure system will move through the Tennessee Valley north and east towards western Pennsylvania by Friday morning as a secondary system develops off of the east coast. While those two lows spin about, Arctic high pressure will remain banked to the north in New England, setting the stage for a variety of precipitation types in the eastern U.S.
It appears the heavier precipitation will spread into the eastern U.S. on Thursday evening, spilling over into Friday morning before wrapping up in time for the weekend. With cold air locked in place, snow is expected to break out over most of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey at the start of the storm. But as milder air runs north ahead of this next low, snow will change to freezing rain and sleet in central portions of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey as plain snow spreads into southern New England. On the south side of the system, rain will become the dominant precipitation type while snow remains the dominant precipitation type in the north. But in the middle, an icy mess will be the dominant precipitation type with a prolonged period of sleet and freezing rain expected there.
Accumulating ice is likely across central Ohio the northern two-thirds of Pennsylvania, northern New Jersey, southern Upstate New York, and southern Connecticut. Odds are high here that at least 0.01″ of ice will accumulate. Unlike snow, just a tiny ice accumulation could create major travel headaches and dangers, especially on untreated surfaces.
North of the ice where cold air should be locked in at most layers of the atmosphere, snow will fall, heavy at times. Heavy snow in the range of 12-18″ is expected in portions of central upstate New York, southern Vermont and New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, including northern suburbs of Boston. Boston itself could see 6-12″ of snow.
South of the snow area where precipitation will be a wintry mix or change to plain rain, accumulations will be much lighter. While there could be a light coating of snow in Philadelphia and New York City, rain should wash it away in both of those cities. Only plain rain is expected in Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD at this time.
By Friday, the center of this complex system should move near Philadelphia and New York in the morning with the secondary low taking over and pulling away to the northeast by the afternoon. As such, precipitation will gradually wind-down during the day on Friday.
Behind the storm, winds will increase during the mid and late afternoon hours as the low pulls away. Northwest gusts of 25-35 mph are possible in the northeast; when ice and snow accumulations are factored in, there could be power outages from trees and wires stressed by the wintry weather.
Fair high pressure will return for Saturday, kicking off the weekend on a fair but chilly note.