After another Arctic day yesterday, today feels tropical in comparison with temperatures in the mid 30s. Is this a sign that winter is losing its grip? Not quite yet.
Several more low temperature records were broken yesterday. For more perspective on how cold it has been, check out the article we published this morning. While widespread record cold is likely done, we may have another night or two left of single digit cold, which is still truly remarkable for this time of year. Overall, below average temperatures and chances for snow will continue for the next 7-10 days.
The first chance for snow comes tomorrow. A snowstorm is developing in the deep south, and is expected to give parts of North Carolina and Virginia up to a foot of snow. Usually, snowstorms of this variety do not come far enough to hit our area, and this is expected to be the case. Having said that, storms that develop near the Gulf tend to come in a bit further north than forecast (see the cold, 3-5″ of fluffy snow we got last Monday night into Tuesday). These southern waves tend to pump up a lot of heat and moisture which give a feedback effect to amplify the pattern for them to come a bit further north than they normally would.
Recent modeling data keeps inching further north with this system. Today’s 12z European Model actually gives up to an inch of snow for most of the area, with 2-3″ for southern sections, such as eastern Long Island and Atlantic City, and several inches of snow for Cape May. If these trends were to continue, a light to moderate snowstorm would be in store for southern parts of our area.
However, as we get closer and closer to the event, the potential error for models gets smaller. They get more accurate as the storm approaches, by nature. Thus, it is unlikely we’ll see any more major changes. Also, the pattern aloft in the Atlantic is still highly suppressive. The suppressive pattern also will lead to quite the sharp gradient between moderate snowfall and dry air with sun attempting to break through clouds. Lift gets enhanced on the northern side of the storm system as the cold air presses down on the warm and moist air to the south, but the dry air prevents that from truly coming northward.
This means that we do buy into the fact that areas like Cape May could get several inches of snow, with 1-2″ of snow perhaps reaching as far northward as Ocean County and the east end of Long Island. Farther north than that — late tonight and tomorrow should feature increasing clouds with a few snow showers and snow flurries, which may coat the ground, at most. Regardless, we will be watching the radar closely for any trends.
Despite our area missing the brunt of the snow, temperatures will continue to be cold. Low temperatures tonight will fall back into the mid teens, highs tomorrow will be in the mid 20s (perhaps colder if the overcast with the storm system is thicker), and lows tomorrow night will fall into the upper single digits in suburbs and low to mid teens elsewhere.
Moving forward to Friday, another cold day is in store as northerly winds behind the storm system will once again hold temperatures in the low to mid 20s. Our average highs for this time of year are in the 43-45 degree range, which would be around twenty degrees below average — once again following this month’s theme of historic cold.
Lows on Friday night may once again fall into the single digits for the entire area, though they probably won’t be as cold as they were on Tuesday morning.
After a gradual warmup, but still with temperatures below average this weekend, the weather pattern will become a bit more active. A large trough will be diving into the western US, which pumps ridging and warmth out ahead of it. However, the ridging in Alaska will remain and send parts of the Polar Vortex into southern Canada late this weekend and next week. This means that the battleground for the temperature gradient between bitter cold and spring warmth will probably setup near our area. The exact positioning of this gradient will determine whether we see all snow, mixed precipitation, rain, or storms that go out to sea. The first threat for this will be late Sunday night, through Monday, shown in the image above.
The second threat for this may be a stronger scenario of the above, where each facet to the pattern is a bit stronger, thus precipitation could be a bit more widespread. This would be towards the middle of next week.
While it’s still way too early to be speculating on the exact details, the general theme can still be discussed with some sort of confidence. As we head towards Sunday and beyond, the extreme cold will relax a bit, but we will still have below average temperatures with cold air to the north. There will also be warm air building to the south and plenty of energy gathering out west with a trough. This gives our area multiple chances of wintry precipitation, perhaps even significant as we head towards the middle of next week. But often times, strong storms in this regime will try to cut to our north and give us warmth, after a period of snow. Plenty of options are still on the table. But a less cold, but still chilly pattern with the potential for storms looks to be in store during the first week of March.