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11:30 AM | ***The worst that winter has to offer next five days***

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Weather forecasting, detailed weather analysis and climate information

11:30 AM | ***The worst that winter has to offer next five days***

Paul Dorian

Overview
Get ready – the next five days will bring us the worst that winter has to offer from accumulating snow tonight to extreme cold and dangerous wind chills this weekend to accumulating snow and ice early next week before a possible transition to plain rain as a major storm pulls up along the eastern seaboard.  

 12Z GFS forecast map of temperature anomalies on Sunday morning; map courtesy tropicaltidbits.com, NOAA

12Z GFS forecast map of temperature anomalies on Sunday morning; map courtesy tropicaltidbits.com, NOAA

Arctic blast
A major Arctic outbreak will arrive tonight and this blast will produce some of the lowest temperatures and wind chill values seen in the Northeast US in a long, long time during the upcoming weekend. In addition, this Arctic frontal passage will be accompanied by snow showers and possible heavy snow squalls and perhaps even a period of steady snow beginning in the late afternoon or early evening hours and continuing into the overnight hours.  Given the cold ground-level conditions, quick accumulations are likely and there can be a fresh coating to an inch or two by morning. Travel conditions will become slick and visibility could drop considerably in any snow squall activity.

Temperatures this weekend are likely to primarily hold in the teens for highs and low temperatures by early Sunday morning are likely to flirt with the zero degree mark in the Philly and New York City metro regions, and drop into the single digits in the DC metro region. Wind chill values will reach dangerous levels of 15 to 25 degrees below zero from later tomorrow into Sunday as winds gusting up to 45 mph or so will join up with the extreme cold.  There can be some broken tree limbs due to the high wind gusts tomorrow afternoon and evening with possible isolated power outages.  If New York City does bottom out at 0 degrees or below by early Sunday, it would be the first time at those levels since late January 1994.  Philly dropped to +1 degrees during that same Arctic outbreak in January 1994.  (The winter of 1993-1994 is well-remembered by most in the Mid-Atlantic region as the “ice storm” winter and it featured this particular major Arctic air outbreak in late January 1994 following multiple ice storms). The record in Philadelphia for Sunday, February 14th, is +2 degrees from 1979.  Elsewhere in the Northeast US, Boston, MA and Providence, RI - aided by some decent snow cover - could actually approach their all-time low temperature records by Sunday morning.  
 

 12Z GFS forecast map for Monday evening (blue=snow, pink=ice, green=rain); map courtesy tropicaltidbits.com, NOAA

12Z GFS forecast map for Monday evening (blue=snow, pink=ice, green=rain); map courtesy tropicaltidbits.com, NOAA

 
Major storm early next week
After the brutally cold weekend, clouds will thicken up on Sunday night and snow is likely to break out in the I-95 corridor on Monday, President’s Day. The snow is likely to become heavier later Monday into Monday night before it begins a transition to ice and then potentially to plain rain on Tuesday. All of this will be due to a significant storm that will organize in the southeastern states later Monday and then take a track up the eastern seaboard on Tuesday. It is likely that even with the potential changeover to plain rain on Tuesday, there will be a significant buildup of snow and/or ice during the front end of the storm; especially, in the suburbs to the north and west of the big cities.  In addition, there is the chance that precipitation near the end of the storm changes back to snow as the storm pulls away to the northeast.  Stay tuned on this one – it looks like a major storm with a tremendous amount of moisture and a small shift in the storm track could make a big difference.  For example, a small shift to the east would bring a colder and snowier solution to the I-95 corridor and this possibility is on the table.

 12Z GFS forecast map for Tuesday afternoon (blue=snow, pink=ice, green=rain); map courtesy tropicaltidbits.com, NOAA

12Z GFS forecast map for Tuesday afternoon (blue=snow, pink=ice, green=rain); map courtesy tropicaltidbits.com, NOAA

Some safety measures for the extreme cold (courtesy National Weather Service):

* Cold spells of this magnitude bring a risk of frostbite and
  hypothermia for anyone who does not take proper precautions. In
  addition, frozen pipes and overworked furnaces could leave your
  house without heat or running water, and car batteries run the
  risk of dying. Furthermore, make sure your home and car have
  plenty of fuel.        

* Never venture outdoors without wearing gloves, a hat and several
  layers of clothing. Wind chill values Saturday night into
  Sunday morning could lead to frostbite in less than 30 minutes
  if proper precautions are not taken. Check on your elderly
  neighbors to be sure they are okay.

* Run water at a trickle and keep cabinet doors open to prevent
  pipes from freezing; especially, for exposed pipes and those along
  exterior walls.

* Never use a stove or oven to heat your home or use an open flame
  to melt frozen pipes as many house fires start this way. 

* Check tire pressure and your car battery. Be sure your car has a
  winter safety kit that includes a blanket, warm clothes and gloves
  in case your car breaks down or becomes stranded.

* Take extra steps to keep your pets warm and know their limits to
  the cold.

How about some good news to finish
The Phillies equipment truck rolls out of Philadelphia today and heads towards Clearwater, Florida…pitchers and catchers report later next week!

Meteorologist Paul Dorian
Vencore, Inc.