- Low pressure will intensify near the East Coast this weekend.
- This “bomb cyclone” will bring heavy snow and strong winds to parts of the Northeast.
- Before that, a winter storm will dump snow from the Plains into parts of the South and Midwest.
- It could become one of the strongest non-tropical lows on record in eastern Canada.
A potent winter storm will spread snow from the Plains and parts of the Midwest and South into New England, while turning into a “bomb cyclone” packing high winds as it tracks up the East Coast.
This weather system has been named Winter Storm Quinlan by The Weather Channel.
The setup for this storm began with a potent blast of cold air surging south out of Canada into the Plains and Rockies.
A pair of strong jet streams are then forecast to spin up low pressure along a cold front in the lower Mississippi Valley Friday, then intensify as it races into the Northeast Saturday and eastern Canada by Sunday.
The area of low pressure is expected to become a “bomb cyclone” when it tracks up the East Coast. We’ll have more about that aspect of the forecast after first discussing the expected snow.
Winter weather alerts have been issued by the National Weather Service along the entire path of the storm, including areas from the southern Plains to the mid-South, Ohio Valley, Appalachians and interior Northeast.
A band of snow from this storm is ongoing right now in an area that stretches from New Mexico, northern Texas and Oklahoma into the Midwest.
So far, the heaviest snow totals outside of the high country of the Rockies have been in parts of western Kansas, where more than a foot of snow has piled up in some locations. Anywhere from 2 to 5 inches of snow fell in the Kansas City subway yesterday.
Here’s a breakdown of the timing, snow forecast and wind threat from Winter Storm Quinlan.
Friday, snow will fall as far south as Oklahoma, northern and western Texas and the Ozarks, extending northeast into mid-Mississippi Valley and parts of the Great Lakes. This includes the Dallas-Ft. Worth metro area.
Expect slippery travel in some of these areas.
As colder air is drawn into the strengthening storm Friday night, rain will change to snow in parts of the Ohio and Tennessee valleys as far south as northern Mississippi, northern Alabama and northern Georgia.
This could lead to slick roads even without significant snow accumulations in parts of the Tennessee Valley. Colder air crashing behind the storm could cause icy spots on roads as temperatures fall below freezing into Saturday morning.
Wind-driven snow, heavy at times, is expected Saturday from the Appalachians into the interior Northeast.
Closer to the Interstate 95 urban corridor, initial rain and perhaps even a clap of thunder could change to a period of wet snow Saturday or Saturday night before the precipitation ends.
The storm should depart the US and head into Canada by Sunday, but cold air crashing behind the front could lead to icy roads in the Northeast into Sunday morning.
The heaviest snow from this storm is expected in the interior Northeast this weekend, from the central Appalachians to northern Pennsylvania, central and upstate New York and northern New England, where 6 inches of snow is a good bet, with some 1-foot-plus totals possible.
Elsewhere, snowfall should be fairly modest, generally less than 6 inches in most locations east of the Rockies.
However, those snow accumulations could still make for slippery travel, particularly in the South and in hilly terrain from the Texas Panhandle and Oklahoma into the Ozarks and Tennessee Valley.
Even a dusting of snow is possible as far south as northern Mississippi, northern Alabama and northern Georgia, including parts of the Huntsville and Birmingham, Alabama, areas as well as the northwest Atlanta metro.
Bomb Cyclone Forecast
As alluded to earlier, computer forecast models are suggesting low pressure will explosively develop along the cold front Saturday in the East, and continue doing so into eastern Canada Sunday.
It is likely to exceed the criterion to be deemed a “bomb cyclone,” meaning its minimum surface pressure will drop at least 24 millibars in 24 hours or less.
You can see this in the model forecast loop below.
In general, lower pressure means a more intense storm, especially when it comes to the strength of the winds it can unleash.
High winds are possible Saturday into early Sunday in parts of the East, possibly as far south as the coastal Carolinas, extending into New England.
This threat is highest along the immediate coast ahead of the front Saturday, as well as over the higher terrain of the Northeast. At least some downed tree limbs and power outages are possible in these areas.
Strong winds combined with snow could lead to reduced visibility and dangerous winter driving conditions in the areas of the interior Northeast, where accumulations are expected this weekend. Keep this in mind if you have travel plans.
Damaging winds are also possible this weekend in parts of eastern Canada, including Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador.
In fact, the strength of the bomb cyclone as forecast by some computer models could flirt with all-time low-pressure records in eastern Canada, according to data compiled by NOAA meteorologist David Roth.
According to Roth, these existing records are generally in the 950-959 mb range in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and eastern Québec, and in the 940s in much of Newfoundland and eastern Labrador.
Weather historian Christopher Burt noted the lowest surface pressure on record in Canada is 940.2 mb at St. Anthony, Newfoundland, on Jan. 20, 1977. That national record is at least a slight possibility by Sunday, according to some model forecasts.
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