Before we get there, I mentioned yesterday that the coldest air of the season comes in this weekend. Temps will be in the teens for highs and possibly go below zero at night for some areas. You can see the details on yesterdays write up.
I am tracking a storm in the wake of this cold outbreak. The track is a big question mark right now, but I am finally starting to see come consistency in the models. At this time it looks to be like an event that could start as snow but quickly change to ice then some rain for the big cities. Further inland NW of I-95 the snow and ice could hold on longer before a transition to liquid. This could be a big issue if it verifies. Remember we have bitter arctic air in place that tries to move out ahead of this storm. Cold dense arctic air doesn't move easily, and usually means ice when you have an approaching storm trying to bring in warm air.
Why do i think this is not mostly snow for the big cities? Yes the cold air is in place ahead of the storm, BUT there is nothing to keep it in place (blocking). This means a storm track that is even just a tad too far inland results in ice to rain.
The massive area of high pressure that brings in the bitter cold air for the weekend slides offshore as you can see in the image above. This means we need perfect timing of disturbances to stay in the cold area of the storm.
What we should be left with is something similar to this..
Do not take this image verbatim.I actually do think areas of NW NJ have a shot at seeing more frozen than liquid with this. However, I am trying to show the point that this is not a set up for the big cities.
How could this change? Two things we will have to monitor. The strength of the ridge out west and how the departing polar vortex of cold air sets up.
I circled those two features on the image above. Ideally you would want to see this ridge pump up more behind the storm and the vortex of low pressure be be to the south and east around coordinates 50/50. This would result in a storm that develops further south and runs in to sustainable cold air. That does not like it will be the case this time. Things can still change however. We are 5 days out.
Pattern stays active through early March. We need one more significant storm to make this winter worthwhile. Up in the ski areas, a lot of ground needs to be covered. We will see how things turn out over the next 5 weeks. I do not buy the ideas of any sustainable warm ups for the foreseeable future. Any periods of warmth will last a few days and cold should keep returning.
More updates to come.