March waited until today (Mar. 12, 2014) to roar. Roar, the weather will, today and tomorrow, as a major storm (advertised earlier this week) develops across the Mississippi Valley and races to southern New England before heading toward eastern Canada. The storm promises to be “meteorological bomb”-like, as its central pressure drops precipitously today and tonight. The resulting pressure drop, coupled with a strong high-pressure system to its northwest will allow for the development of a large and strong wind field. Sustained winds of 30 to 40 miles hour (with higher gusts) should affect much of the northeast quadrant of the U.S during the next two days. Strong, but not as strong, winds, will reach all the way south to the Gulf Coast and Florida. Offshore from the mid-Atlantic northward, gale and storm warnings are in place.
In addition to wind (Fig. 1), the storm promises to bring a wide swath of heavy, wet snow to the north of its trek. The northern third of New York State, for example, can look for more than a foot of snow. Chicago and Detroit are expecting more than 6 inches. Heavy snow has already fallen across northern Illinois and parts of Indiana. South of the heavy snow band, rain (locally heavy) will transition into snow as colder air works into these areas. In some areas from northern New York State into New England, anticipate blizzard conditions to develop.
To the south of the low, thunderstorms, some potentially severe, are expected across the Mid-Atlantic region. NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center expected the main threat to be strong, possibly damaging, winds. However, they indicated in their morning discussion that some rotating storm cells (capable of producing tornadoes), associated with a developing squalline, are possible.
By Friday, temperatures will rise again and winds will die down significantly.
However, a new storm system is on the meteorological horizon. It is expected to affect the Mid-Atlantic and southeast later in the weekend. Due to its expected southern track and the lack of very cold air, this system should be mostly a rainmaker.
© 2014 H. Michael Mogil