Arctic Cold Could Fuel Widespread Snow Threat From Rockies to Central, Eastern

Another Snowmaker For Late This Week?
  • A potent storm will enter the West Coast Thursday and spread snow through the Rockies.
  • The storm will then encounter cold air diving southward into the Plains and Midwest.
  • Widespread snow and ice are possible from the Plains and Midwest to the Northeast late-week into next weekend.

Arctic cold will return to the nation’s northern tier starting late this week, and that could help fuel another widespread snow threat from the Rockies into parts of the Midwest and East.

What we know: Strong arctic high pressure will bring much colder air southward from Canada into the Plains, Midwest and Great Lakes late this week into next weekend. A storm system entering the West Coast Thursday will tap into that cold air once it moves through the central and eastern states Friday through next weekend, potentially allowing the storm deliver a widespread area of snow.

What we don’t know: The exact track of the aforementioned storm system Friday through next weekend is still uncertain as it pivots through the central and eastern states. There could be accumulating snow and/or ice from parts of the Plains and Midwest into the Northeast Friday into next weekend, but it’s far too early to pinpoint any further details such as snow totals and potential locations affected.

Colder air will likely push into the nation’s northern tier starting late this week. A storm system may tap into that cold air and deliver a widespread area of snowfall in the central and eastern states.

Here’s a look at what we know right now, but keep in mind that changes to this forecast are likely since we are still several days away.

Widespread Snow Threat Ahead?

Thursday

  • The storm will move into the West Coast Thursday, spreading snow and strong winds from the Sierra Nevada into the Rockies.
  • Snow levels will likely lower as the storm moves farther inland.
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Thursday’s Forecast(The green shadings depict where rain is expected. Areas that are shaded blue are expected to see snow. Purple-shaded locations may see either rain or snow. Areas in pink are expected to see sleet or freezing rain (ice).
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Friday

  • Snow will continue over the Rockies, including down to valley floors.
  • Parts of the Plains and Midwest may also begin to see increasing snow and wind, though exactly where is still uncertain.
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Friday’s Forecast(The green shadings depict where rain is expected. Areas that are shaded blue are expected to see snow. Purple-shaded locations may see either rain or snow. Areas in pink are expected to see sleet or freezing rain (ice).
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Next Weekend

  • The area of low pressure will track from the Midwest toward the East Coast next weekend.
  • There is the potential for widespread accumulating snow and ice along and north of where the low tracks through parts of the Midwest and Northeast.
  • It’s too early to know exactly what areas may see significant amounts of snow and/or ice. This could include some cities that were just affected by Winter Storm Gia.
  • Below is our forecast for next Saturday, but keep in mind that since this is more than five days away, it will likely change based on future forecast guidance. Check back with weather.com for updates.
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Saturday’s Forecast(The green shadings depict where rain is expected. Areas that are shaded blue are expected to see snow. Purple-shaded locations may see either rain or snow. Areas in pink are expected to see sleet or freezing rain (ice).
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Cold Air Returns

As mentioned earlier, colder-than-average temperatures will return to the Plains and Midwest late this week.

Subzero cold is likely in the northern Plains and upper Midwest Friday into Saturday.

Minneapolis/St. Paul could have its first subzero temperature of the season next weekend. That would beat the record for the latest in the winter season the Twin Cities have recorded their first below-zero temperature, which is currently Jan. 18 set in 2012.

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Colder Temperatures on the Way

This arctic intrusion could mark the beginning of what is expected to be a colder end to January east of the Rockies.

Relatively mild temperatures have dominated much of the country to start January, but a recent split of the polar vortex is tilting the odds toward a colder weather regime.

NOAA’s 8- to 14-day temperature outlook illustrates this by giving portions of the central and eastern states increased odds of below-average temperatures Jan. 21 to 27.

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NOAA’s 8- to 14-Day Temperature Outlook(The blue shadings depict areas that are favored to see below-average temperatures for the period of time indicated.)