Initial thoughts on the potential for a weekend winter storm

Generally, dry weather is anticipated under high pressure today and Tuesday before a cold front on Wednesday. Temperatures will warm during the week as Wednesday will be the warmest day then a slow downward trend into the weekend.

The weekend snow wasn’t even finished and the chatter about another winter storm began to circulate through social media. This blog will focus primarily on what we know at this point. I realize many folks use weather apps from The Weather Channel and other national weather outlets and are already predicting a big impactful snow event.

The truth is that this is 5/6 days out yet and no one – I repeat – NO ONE – knows how this next storm will play out (See below). Take any weather app and social media forecasts a week out with a big grain of salt. National weather apps rely on Araw computer model data and this data is constantly changing through the day. Any app that predicts detailed snow amounts a week out is not helping you. What you see today will likely change several times each day. I’ll never hype up a snowstorm forecast that’s a week out because, in all reality, a detailed snow forecast this far out is just ludicrous.

Before we get into the potential weekend storm, let’s touch a little on what we can look forward to during the first part of the week.

With clearing skies overnight and the snowpack in place, temperatures across the Valley dipped to the teens in most neighborhoods this morning. High pressure will make for a dry day today and even bring some occasional sunshine to the Valley this afternoon. It will remain chilly today with afternoon temperatures in the low 30s.

High pressure will keep us dry through Tuesday ahead of a weak system Tuesday night. This system is pretty lame but it may bring a few snowflakes to east-central Ohio Tuesday night and Wednesday. I don’t expect this to be much more than a dusting of snow in some areas if anything.

After a brief dry period Wednesday night, low pressure will track across the Great Lakes and drag a cold front through the region on Thursday.

This system will bring better odds for precipitation locally mainly Thursday afternoon and Thursday night. Warm air working into this system may be enough to bring some freezing drizzle and cold rain to the area. It’s a tricky forecast at this point so I’ll just mention it as a possibility.

Here is what I am confident in saying regarding the weekend:

  1. A winter storm will track across the eastern US
  2. Confidence is high regarding the timing of this storm – Saturday into Sunday
  3. Local impacts are likely and enough snowfall to bring travel disruption is possible
  4. Exact snow accumulations are not possible at this time
  5. Precipitation types at any given time will be challenging and this will be a factor that prevents exact snow totals
  6. The exact track of the system – north or south – will mean the difference between a minor event to a big event
  7. Temperatures will trend colder behind the weekend storm

Okay. So why is an accurate snow forecast 5 days out impossible?

The weather system that is responsible for the weekend storm is offshore in the Gulf of Alaska.

It’s a loooong way off and has a lot of ocean to cross before it reaches land on Thursday where it can be properly sampled.

With that being said, once the system makes landfall and merges with the low off the California coast, more accurate data will be available as the storm gets sampled by NWS. That data will be injected into the computer models. Higher resolution models will then have more accurate data to work with and we can start zeroing in on the track, precipitation types and amounts. Until then, anything close to an accurate forecast is just a bunch of hype.

Until then, just be aware that an impactful winter storm is a good possibility over the weekend. Be wary of crazy snow forecasts and social media hype until Thursday.

I’ll keep you posted….



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