Widespread impacts from midweek storm

A pre-thanksgiving storm system will create a travel nightmare from Tuesday Night through Wednesday, providing a myriad of threats up and down the east coast. Before we dive into the details of the storm system, what’s causing it to occur, and what you can expect in our area, we can lay out a few things we know as fact as of Tuesday morning. First, there will be significant travel delays on Wednesday. If you’re driving, flying, or using some other form of travel in the Mid-Atlantic or Northeast US, expect delays…likely significant. Second, Thanksgiving day itself won’t be all that bad. So once you make it where you need to be, the weather for actual Turkey Day looks to be fairly pleasant, albeit a bit cold. In our post below, we break down the storm system and what you can expect from it.

Visible satellite imagery from Tuesday morning, showing a significant storm system forming in the Southeast US.

Visible satellite imagery from Tuesday morning, showing a significant storm system forming in the Southeast US.

What’s the deal, how is this storm forming?

Two pieces of energy in the jet stream across the Central and Eastern United States will phase on Wednesday, essentially very close to our forecast area. A low pressure area will develop from the Southeast States northeastward into New England. As it does so, warm air will stream up the Eastern Seaboard — as will significant amounts of precipitation in association with a strong low level jet and moisture transport. The low pressure system will then rapidly deepen as it moves to our north through New England and into Eastern Canada.

What are the expected threats from the storm system?

There are several. The track of the storm itself will inherently limit winter weather potential in our forecast area. In fact, the low pressure tracking near or just west of our area suggests temperatures will warm up into the 60’s early Wednesday just as the system is passing our area. That being said, there are several impacts expected from this storm system, all of which will have effects on travel through Wednesday.

  • Rain: After months of drought or near-drought conditions, a soaking rain finally seems like a good bet throughout all of the region. A strong low level jet will surge northward late on Tuesday, with a significant increase in moisture. Enhanced lift as the storm system shifts north will set the stage for heavy rain potential from Tuesday Night into Wednesday. Forecast models are in good agreement on the potential from 2-3″ of rainfall in much of the area, with isolated areas receiving higher amounts.
  • Snow/Ice: Winter weather potential will be somewhat limited by the northward surge of moisture and warmth. But areas to our north and west, across much of the interior Northeast, are in store for a significant early-season winter storm. 6 to 8 inches of snow are possible from the Western Appalachians into West-Central PA and Interior New York State. The mountains of Vermont and Northern New England also seem likely to receive several inches of snow. In our area, only very light accumulations appear possible across the North-West suburbs as the storm pulls away, with the potential for some snow or sleet as precipitation begins as well. That being said, winter weather impacts are likely to be rather low in our area.
  • Wind: With a low pressure system tracking near our area, and deepening rapidly as it passes by, there will be concerns for strong winds. This is especially true across the Eastern portions of the forecast area, where stronger winds are located aloft — in fact, just above the surface. Any heavy precipitation could help to mix down these strong winds towards the surface. The National Weather Service has issued a Wind Advisory for Eastern New Jersey, Southeast New York including New York City, Southern Connecticut and all of Long Island. Wind gusts to 50 miles per hour are possible
European model's forecast total precipitation through Wednesday evening -- showing in excess of 3" in some locations.

European model’s forecast total precipitation through Wednesday evening — showing in excess of 3″ in some locations.

 

We know it’s coming, what is the deal with timing?

The storm system has already begun moving through the Southeast States as of early Tuesday, and light snow was falling in parts of New England. Steady precipitation is expected to spread northward late Tuesday Night and continue through Wednesday. We break down the timing below.

  • Tuesday Night: By late Tuesday afternoon and evening, steady rain will begin to shift northward from the Mid Atlantic states into much of New Jersey and eventually New York City. The precipitation may begin as snow, sleet or freezing rain across parts of far interior New Jersey or New York State — mostly highly elevated areas. A change to rain is expected rather quickly. The rain will become steady and heavier with time overnight on Tuesday, with areas of heavy rain spreading northeast from New Jersey towards New York City and Connecticut. Winds will pick up rather quickly, gusting over 40 miles per hour at times.
  • Wednesday Morning: Early Wednesday morning, the heavy rain and wind will peak. As the low pressure center shifts over parts of New Jersey, or just west of there, south-southeasterly winds will increase and temperatures will rise. A strong low level jet will bring an area of enhanced precipitation northward through the area. Temperatures will rise into the 60’s over parts of New Jersey. Winds gusting to 50 miles per hour, especially near the coast.
  • Wednesday Afternoon: Periods of heavy rain continue, but begin to wrap up from southwest to northeast as the storm system begins to deepen and shift north of the area. Cold air will begin to rapidly funnel into the area from the west as well, with precipitation possibly flipping over to a brief period of snow before ending across parts of West/Northwest New Jersey and New York State.
  • Wednesday Evening: Precipitation ends, but gusty west winds continue. Temperatures fall back into the 20’s and 30’s later on Wednesday Night into Thanksgiving morning, with clearing skies expected — sans a few isolated rain or snow showers.
NAM model showing a significant northward surge of moisture. Here, precipitate water values are close to 2.0 throughout much of the area.

NAM model showing a significant northward surge of moisture. Here, precipitate water values are close to 2.0 throughout much of the area.

The bottom line from our forecasters: The storm system impacting our area from late Tuesday into Wednesday will be rather significant, especially in terms of travel and commuting — and given the time of year. If you are traveling, allow for a lot of extra time, and prepare for significant delays. The worst travel impacts look to occur from Tuesday Night through Wednesday morning, with affects likely lingering into Thursday. The local airports are expecting significant delays. If you aren’t traveling, expect periods of heavy rain and gusty winds — make sure to take in any loose objects. Flooding is not expected due to the recent drought, but is still possible. Have a plan in place in the event that unexpected flooding or other damage does occur. Finally, stay tuned to our social network accounts and obviously our website for constant updates as the storm moves through.

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