An enormous winter storm that snarled travel from the Southwest to the Midwest and put more than 22 million people under winter storm warnings in the United States early Wednesday is far from over. Its far-flung impacts will continue to stretch into the Northeast with snow and ice creating adverse travel conditions across the northern tier into Friday, AccuWeather meteorologists say.
The worst travel conditions are anticipated to the north of the I-80 corridor. Forecasters urge motorists and pedestrians to exercise caution and heed all warnings from officials.
Even though pockets of sleet, freezing rain and snow will occur along I-80 and a bit farther south into Wednesday evening, recent warm weather may limit this zone’s slippery conditions. However, icy spots can occur over colder, elevated surfaces such as bridges and overpasses.
As the band of mixed precipitation advances eastward into Wednesday night, a few sleet pellets and snowflakes can be seen around New York City for a time, as well as in the northern suburbs of Philadelphia, central New Jersey, the southern coast of New England and Long Island, New York. However, as temperatures surge and moisture is limited in these areas, the accumulation of frozen precipitation will be suppressed in this zone.
Farther north, from southern Ontario to portions of western and central New York, northwestern Connecticut, western and central Massachusetts and the southern counties of Vermont and New Hampshire, a buildup of ice before a spell of above-freezing temperatures can lead to dangerous travel conditions. Where pockets of 0.25 to 0.50 of an inch of freezing rain occur instead of sleet, the risk of trees and power lines coming down will increase from Wednesday night to early Thursday.
A wintry mix is in store for Boston from Wednesday night to Thursday evening, making roads and sidewalks slippery and leading to travel delays. Aircraft deicing operations will be needed at Boston Logan International Airport.
Heavier snow will fall farther to the north from the storm into Friday evening, much to the delight of skiing interests. A broad swath of 6-12 inches (15-30 cm (0.98 feets) (0.98 feet s) (0.98 feet)) of snow is in store from central Ontario and southern Quebec to central and northern Maine. Within this zone, a pocket of 12-18 inches (30-45 cm (1.48 feets) (1.48 feet s) (1.48 feet)) of snow will fall from northern Vermont and New Hampshire to northwestern Maine and part of the Eastern Townships of Quebec.
Since the bulk of the storm’s moisture has been and will continue to focus along a more west-to-east swath rather than south-to-north, very little precipitation will likely fall south of I-80 from the storm. In most cases, only very spotty rain showers will follow after the initial surge of rain and mixed precipitation at midweek.
A vast sea of record-challenging warm air, centered over the Southern states combined with limited moisture, will be the driving force behind the little precipitation in the mid-Atlantic and southern New England and the sharp southern edge between snow and ice and rain showers.
Temperatures will rival historical high temperatures for Feb. 23 on Thursday in cities such as Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. The record of 70 F from 1922 will be topped in Pittsburgh, while in Philadelphia, the record high of 75 set way back in 1874 is likely to be tied. The temperature will surge to near 80 in Washington, D.C., and is likely to shatter the record of 78, which was also set in 1874.
A burst of much colder air will sweep southeastward in the wake of the storm from Friday into Saturday. For example, high temperatures will trend downward by about 40 degrees in Washington, D.C., compared to the May-like warmth on Thursday. The high on Friday will be around 60 F, then Saturday’s high will be in the low 40s.
With the aid of fresh snow cover, temperatures will drop into the teens, single digits and even below zero over the northern tier of the Northeast on Friday night.
As a pair of weak storms pushes eastward across the region from Friday night to Saturday, a sneaky period of snow or flurries is possible from northern Maryland and West Virginia and to points farther to the north. At the same time, rain showers and perhaps a light wintry mix can occur farther south in Virginia and Delaware.
There could be just enough snow or a wintry mix to make some roads slippery during the first part of the weekend in portions of the mid-Atlantic, the central Appalachians and southern New England.
While the significant snow drought continues along the I-95 corridor from southern New England to the south with only a few tenths of an inch this winter, the northern portions of New York and New England have been picking up snow this season.
But, even in Burlington, Vermont, and Lebanon, New Hampshire, snowfall has been shy of the historical average before this week’s storm. As of Tuesday, Feb. 21, Burlington had measured 39.5 inches of snow compared to a historical average of 61.1 inches, or 65% of the average. Lebanon has picked up 36.8 inches compared to a historical average through Feb. 21 of 44.9 inches.
Farther south, Boston has picked up 7.9 inches compared to a historical average of 35.3 inches. This week’s storm will bring a couple of inches or less to the airport, where official records are kept, so there will likely be little improvement in the snowfall department. However, areas in northern New England should end up close to their historical average by the conclusion of the storm later Friday or early Saturday.
Produced in association with AccuWeather.