Global Warming Update: Spring On Hold For Remainder Of March As Winter Storm Builds For Upper East Coast
March 22nd, 2011
By Brian Edwards, Meteorologist
Spring is on hold for at least the remainder of March across much of the Northeast and parts of the mid-Atlantic as several bouts of wintry weather are expected.
The first of which is currently bringing more snow to the northern Plains and Upper Midwest. This storm will track southeastward into Wednesday spreading a swath of wintry precipitation into northern parts of the mid-Atlantic and southern New England.
High pressure centered over northern Ontario is sending a northerly flow of cold air into much of the Northeast. With this cold air in place at the low levels, the stage is set for a major winter storm across northeastern Pennsylvania, southern New York and northern New Jersey.
A band of heavy snow will set up tonight as precipitation spreads over the area after midnight. The snow will fall heavily at times through Wednesday potentially accumulating as much as a foot across the Poconos region of Pennsylvania and the Catskill Mountains of New York.
Outside of the higher elevations, a general 3-6 inches of snow is expected across the southern tier of New York along with north-central and northeastern Pennsylvania.
Farther south across the remainder of central Pennsylvania, the Lehigh Valley and much of central and northern New Jersey, precipitation will fall as a variety of types. With low pressure passing just south of this region, a surge of milder air aloft will move overtop the low level cold air, thereby, allowing the snow to mix with sleet and rain.
A general 1-3 inches of a slushy mix of snow and sleet can be expected across this area. AccuWeather.com meteorologists are also concerned for a prolonged sleet event across a narrow portion of central Pennsylvania and and central New Jersey which would cut down on any snow accumulations but will cause more significant issues due to the ice buildup.
Travel headaches are expected through Wednesday across southern New England and northern mid-Atlantic, but thankfully, most of the wintry precipitation will be falling during the daylight hours on Wednesday.
Due to the stronger March sunshine, roadways often remain wet during the day even with snow falling. The amount of accumulation on roadways depends on how heavy the snow is coming down. Therefore, the greatest travel disruptions and delays are expected to be during the early morning hours before sunrise.
The storm will be complicated by a tremendous temperature difference from northeast to southwest, much more so than many winter storms. Temperatures may be hovering near freezing across the north and reaching the 70s and 80s within a couple of hundred miles of the snow area with potentially severe thunderstorms.
One consolation of the busy storm pattern is that it appears the cold air will fail to drive very far south, sparing many of the big cities along the I-95 corridor from significant wintry precipitation.
The pattern through at least the next week supports smaller, faster-moving storms that fail to push too much cold air around rather than one huge storm and a cold outbreak driving deep into the South. The storms will still have enough circulation so that near their track a rain to snow or snow to rain situation can occur.
Another storm may come along over the weekend with more snow for the Upper Midwest and part of the Northeast.
Indeed the weather pattern over the next couple of weeks could make things interesting for some early season baseball games. Keep checking in at AccuWeather.com for updates.
Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski contributed to the content of the story.