Jan 29, 2012: Light Snow Showers Tonight

Weather Forecast Highlights:

– Scattered snow squalls tonight, light accumulations possible with gusty winds
– Warm weather returns for Wednesday, near 60 degrees
– Storm possible for weekend: more rain and possibly snow
– Snowstorm potential still exists between February 4-15


With the third cold front in the last 3 days moving through the region, today brought slightly colder temperatures but still warmer than average, peaking in the lower to mid 40s across the area. Looking at the latest radar posted to the left, a line of light to locally moderate snow squalls is moving through central Pennsylvania. There have been reports of quick accumulations of up to 1-2 inches in a short amount of time along with strong wind gusts with this line of snow showers. Although this line will weaken once it reaches the area, scattered snow showers are still expected from NYC and further north/west, with a short burst of moderate snow possible for western NJ and Orange county in NY. These areas may receive a quick 1/2 inch of snow tonight.

The colder temperatures will last through tomorrow, but will quickly come to an end as a low pressure tracks to the north of the region, bringing temperatures back to the 55-60 degree range for Wednesday. Although the pattern does not flip completely to a cold and snowy one, there are changes unfolding by late next week which may result in a colder and stormier pattern for the region, starting out with two storm potentials, one for Thursday and the second for the weekend.

Tomorrow’s Outlook:

The coldest temperatures of this cool spell are expected for tomorrow, although these temperatures are still slightly warmer than average. Along with mostly sunny skies, temperatures will peak in the mid to upper 30s inland and the upper 30s to lower 40s across the area.

Tuesday – Thursday: Warmer And Possibly Rainy; Nearing 60 Degrees

The cold will quickly move out of the region on Monday night with a large warm front moving through the region. Some snow will fall ahead of this warm front in most of New England including southern Connecticut, with light accumulations possible towards central New England, and although isolated flurries are possible in NYC, most of the area except for southern CT are likely to stay dry. By Tuesday, a ridge will return to the region along with southwest winds and a warmer air mass moving in, resulting in temperatures warming up to the lower to mid 50s across the area, nearly 15 degrees warmer than average.

The warmest temperatures are expected for Wednesday, ahead of the next cold front. Mostly cloudy skies are expected, and cloud cover along with afternoon/evening scattered showers may limit how warm temperatures get, but widespread highs in the mid 50s are expected, with parts of the immediate NYC area reaching the 55-60 degree range. Scattered showers will continue through the overnight hours with temperatures dropping into the mid 30s to lower 40s across the area.

There is some uncertainty for Thursday regarding a storm potential. Most models do not show a storm, although the ECMWF is currently the only model showing a storm affecting the area. Both of its runs today showed rain, although its afternoon 12z run was colder than its 0z run last night. There have already been times this year when the ECM showed a storm and backed away from it, and considering that the current emphasis is on the weekend storm potential, I am expecting the ECM to trend away from the large Thursday storm solution, with the result ending up as scattered rain showers in the area and rain/snow showers in the Northeast. Mild temperatures will continue through Thursday with highs likely reaching the upper 40s to lower 50s.

Longer Range: Weekend Storm Potential

The storm potential for the weekend is even more uncertain than the Thursday potential, with the latest models showing completely different solutions, ranging from a cold rain on the CMC to heavy rain on the GFS with a large Northeast snowstorm, to no storm on the earlier GFS runs and a moderate rain/snow event on the ECMWF. It is still uncertain if the area sees a storm, but should a storm affect the area this weekend, it would be more likely to bring either a rain/snow mix or plain rain, with a snowstorm possible but not very likely at this time. Due to the large uncertainty, it is difficult to know for sure what the storm will do; stay tuned for more information on the storm potential for the weekend once details become clearer.

Beyond the weekend storm potential, there are still signs that some changes are coming to the pattern. Although these are not permanent changes, instead expected to be temporary for at least a 1-2 week time period, they are likely to bring a colder and potentially stormier pattern to the region. Stronger ridging near the western US is expected to develop, with some models hinting of weak ridging near Greenland. Although it does not appear that any solid blocking is likely to develop for this time frame, the PNA ridge is likely to make the pattern more favorable for cold and potentially snow. In addition, the MJO, which has been stuck at phases 4-6 for the last month, is finally breaking out of its locked cycle and moving towards phase 7. While phase 7 does not support sustained cold and snow in the East, and at this time it does not appear that the MJO is likely to settle in phase 8 which is more supportive of cold and snow, the MJO moving into phase 7 is a signal that the pattern is starting to weaken from where it has been until now. While it is not a guarantee that the area sees snow with this temporary pattern change, the potential is there for at least one snowstorm to affect the area between February 4 and 15, with the pattern potentially becoming less favorable for cold and snow after this time frame.

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