January will end and February will begin on a mild note here in the Mid-Atlantic region with temperatures well above normal for this time of year in the Sunday to Wednesday time period. High temperatures by Sunday afternoon should climb well up into the 40’s and those mild conditions will continue right through mid-week. In fact, Wednesday looks especially mild with temperatures likely 20+ degrees above normal in the Mid-Atlantic region (above). Snow should continue to melt around here at a pretty good clip given the expected (temporary) break from winter and that’s a good thing since there is the threat for a heavy rain event by the middle of next week. The potential heavy rain event will be produced by a powerful El Nino-enhanced storm and its associated strong cold frontal system that will cross the nation next week and have significant implications all along the way. Behind the storm, a widespread Arctic air outbreak will envelope much of the eastern half of the nation by Thursday and Friday of next week.
Major storm first hits California
A major storm will push in from the Pacific Ocean later this weekend and bring lots of rain, snow and wind to the state of California and this should continue to help alleviate their drought conditions. The wind gusts could reach 50 mph at some spots in California during this next storm; especially, at inland higher terrain locations. By the way, the snow pack in California’s Sierra Mountains – a crucial source of water during the remainder of the year – is now at a five year high.
Major storm impact in the Plains/Great Lakes/East
Once this major storm spills out into the center part of the nation, it will produce a dichotomy of weather with blizzard conditions on the cold side of the system (e.g., Denver to Minneapolis) and severe weather dominating the warm sector (e.g., New Orleans to St. Louis). Farther to the east, southerly winds well ahead of the frontal system will bring mild conditions into the Mid-Atlantic region and rain is likely by mid-week. In fact, this could turn out to be a heavy rain event along the I-95 corridor which could result in some flooding depending on how much snowpack remains.
Widespread Arctic air outbreak
Meanwhile, as this storm travels from the Plains to the Great Lakes, the floodgates will open for Arctic air to pour into the northern US. This next Arctic outbreak will reach the Mid-Atlantic region by Thursday and Friday of next week and it is likely to penetrate all the way down into the Deep South (above map). Once the cold returns here late next week, it looks like it will stick around for awhile as we progress through the month of February. The good news is that pitchers and catchers report in about 20 days.
Meteorologist Paul Dorian