As millions of people dig out and recover in the wake of the Blizzard of 2016, many are wondering when the next snowstorm will hit. Another storm bears watching on Friday.
Communities still digging out from the blizzard in the mid-Atlantic and far southern New England will welcome a break from accumulating snow through Thursday.
A weak system passing through the region could bring a touch of drizzle and spotty freezing rain on Tuesday that could end as flurries on Wednesday.
The system to watch for a new round of potential major travel disruptions will form in the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday. The exact track of the storm will determine whether a swath of more disruptive snow spreads across the Northeast or remains offshore.
According to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski, “That storm will track northeastward over the Atlantic Ocean and rapidly strengthen during the latter half of the week.”
“The window of movement for the storm ranges from right along the coast to a few hundred miles out to sea,” Sosnowski said.
“A storm that tracks near the coast could bring rain and heavy snow to the Interstate 95 corridor of the mid-Atlantic and New England, while a storm that tracks well to the east could keep heavy precipitation offshore of most locations,” Sosnowski said.
It is too early to say with certainty where the storm will track, but areas farther north in New England could face much greater impact from the storm later this week, when compared to last week’s encounter.
In this scenario, the storm tracks close enough to the coast to bring heavy snow to part of New England.
Since the storm will have much more northward movement when compared to last weekend’s blizzard, areas from the mid-Atlantic to New England and Atlantic Canada will need to monitor the storm’s progress.
“The forecast challenge with the storm last weekend was the northern extent of the heavy snow,” Sosnowski said. “The question late this week will be: How far west does the heavy snow get?”
In this scenario, the storm tracks too far to the east to bring heavy snow to the I-95 mid-Atlantic corridor.
Places north of a line from Pittsburgh to Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Boston totally escaped the Blizzard of 2016.
Just as the storm track will determine which areas receive snow or rain versus dry weather, how strong the storm becomes will determine the severity of conditions.
“There is the potential for the storm to evolve into a blizzard with the area from New England to the Canadian Maritimes being the greatest concern at this time,” Sosnowski said. “However, there is a chance the storm strengthens quickly enough to track farther west with the risk of a significant winter storm in the mid-Atlantic.”
Cold air should also not enter the picture fast enough for snow to fall into the South as was the case this past weekend.
The track of the storm late this week should prevent the Ohio and Tennessee valleys from experiencing a repeat of the disruptive snowfall.
The storm is not likely to linger along the coast as long as the blizzard did. This would prevent a prolonged period of onshore winds and waves from pounding the coastline.
The phase of the moon will approach the last quarter around the time of the storm. Astronomical tides are not especially high during that time.
However, strengthening winds could still lead to above-normal tides and minor coastal flooding from the mid-Atlantic, northward to Atlantic Canada. The danger will increase as the storm intensifies farther north along the coast.
“At this time it appears unlikely for another blizzard with 2-3 feet of snow to hit the mid-Atlantic states on Friday,” Sosnowski said.
Beyond the end of January, the storm track is likely to shift farther to the west toward the Great Lakes, according to AccuWeather Senior Long-Range Meteorologist Jason Nicholls.
“During early February, the storm track would bring mostly rain in the East,” Nicholls said. “However, snowstorms could return to the East during the latter part of February.”