A storm that will develop across parts of the southeastern United States this weekend and produce mostly rain and gusty winds as it tracks along the coast will also have a wintry component, AccuWeather meteorologists say. The storm is forecast to behave similarly to those that are more common during March or April when there is often a lack of cold air.
The storm setup will allow for some wintry conditions to visit locations that typically don’t receive snow. AccuWeather forecasters have been tracking this budding storm since this past weekend and say the system’s projected path has trended farther to the south, compared to initial forecasts which had it headed toward the interior Northeast.
“An atmospheric roadblock near Greenland that would typically force colder air into the Northeast and cause the storm to track well to the north with snow just is not there,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Brandon Buckingham said. Instead, a storm that takes a southern route with dry air in place across much of the interior Northeast is more likely.
However, this more southern route does not mean a potent storm cannot take shape, nor does it mean that snow will not fall. AccuWeather meteorologists expect that both will occur in parts of the East.
“The most likely zone for some snow to fall with the storm is across part of the higher terrain in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, and, perhaps as more of a longshot, in some of the piedmont areas in Virginia and North Carolina as well,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski said.
In order for snow to fall and accumulate outside of the mountains in North Carolina and Virginia, the storm will have to pull down some colder air from the mid-levels of the atmosphere. This can happen if the storm becomes strong enough and if the precipitation becomes heavy enough.
Because of this possibility, areas near and northwest of Interstate 85 in North Carolina and Virginia could experience everything from just plain rain to a mixture of rain and snow to even a period of steady wet snow from late Saturday night to Sunday evening. Even if the latter occurs, it would have to snow rather heavily to accumulate on major roads, forecasters say. There is also a chance that wet snow could accumulate over part of the Delmarva Peninsula.
As the complex storm takes shape, rain will break out and expand across portions of Georgia and the Carolinas from Friday to Saturday before spreading northward into southern parts of Virginia and Maryland on Saturday night.
Some of the rain will be heavy enough to lead to flooding in poor drainage areas and ponding on area highways. The rain could also lead to quick rises on some of the small streams in the region. Motorists venturing along interstates 20, 40, 77, 85 and 95 should expect delays from poor visibility and excess water on the roads at times.
As the storm strengthens from Sunday to Monday, it is likely to create stiff northeasterly winds along the mid-Atlantic coast that could cause minor flooding and lead to some beach erosion from northeastern North Carolina to southern New England.
From late in the weekend to early next week, the storm is likely to pivot offshore but may drift farther to the north in the process, AccuWeather Chief On-Air Meteorologist Bernie Rayno said.
Even though there will be no Arctic air in the Northeast, there is still a chance the storm brings a touch of snow at the last minute before heading out to sea.
“Should rain edge into the I-95 zone of the upper mid-Atlantic and southern New England, just enough chilly air from the strengthening storm could lead to a period of snow at the tail end in these locations from late Sunday night to early Monday,” AccuWeather Long-Range Meteorologist Joseph Bauer said.
Because these areas will be near the northern edge of the storm, it is conceivable that travelers during the late stages of the weekend and Monday morning rush hour could be affected by rain and wet snow.
In the wake of the coastal storm, a new storm system is likely to take a track northeastward across the Central states next week. As it reaches the East, atmospheric conditions will once again prohibit any chances of significant snowfall.
Snowfall has been lacking in much of the I-95 corridor of the mid-Atlantic so far this winter. Areas from Washington, D.C., to New York City have received only a few tenths of an inch for the season so far, compared to an average through Feb. 8 of 8.2 inches in the nation’s capital and 17.1 inches in the Big Apple.
There is a chance that the Greensboro and Winston-Salem areas of North Carolina could end up with more snow for the season than all of the I-95 mid-Atlantic cities combined if the weekend storm produces a robust band of snow near these areas. Greensboro averages about 4.7 inches of snow through Feb. 8 and has yet to have at least 0.1 of an inch of snow. Similarly, Roanoke, Virginia, has had only a trace of snow so far, compared to an average of about 9 inches through Feb. 8.
Dallas, with its 1.3 inches of snow and sleet so far, has picked up more than New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., combined.
Produced in association with AccuWeather.