The first half of winter was anything but that in much of the eastern U.S. That’s about to change later this week as a major winter storm takes aim at the Mid-Atlantic states. The southern side of this storm could also trigger another round of severe weather in Florida on Friday. Even though it may be too early for specifics, both in terms of winter impacts and severe weather, one thing is almost certain - this storm will make travel difficult for many Americans this weekend.
|Do know: Brief round of heavy rain and some thunder will hit most areas north of I-4 some time Friday.
|Don’t know yet: How arm or unstable the air will be when storms arrive, thus how strong they will be.
For the fourth time in two weeks, a line of showers and thunderstorms will sweep through the state along a fast-moving front Friday. Even though limited moisture and instability may prevent a widespread outbreak of severe weather, rotation and energy aloft will be more than sufficient to highlight at least a low risk for a few strong storms. Current forecast data suggests the risk will be greatest in the panhandle before noon, shifting to parts of central and north Florida by afternoon. South Florida will likely be spared by this front, as the center of the storm passes much further to the north than its predecessors. Primary risks with any strong cells that form will be damaging wind gusts or an isolated tornado.
|Do know: Many big cities in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast will receive significant snowfall. Travel by air and ground will be difficult Friday and Saturday.
|Don’t know yet: Where the axis of heaviest, crippling snowfall amounts will occur, and whether or not some may changeover to rain.
One forecast model after another is showing potential snowfall with this storm of more than a foot over a large area of West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey Friday and Saturday. Many major metropolitan areas such as Washington D.C, Philadelphia, Baltimore and even New York City and Boston could be affected. The upper-level energy that will produce this monster of a storm is just now moving ashore on the West Coast, so it’s no surprise that forecast models have had a tough time on the exact track and strength of the storm. This is common during the process, and details should be ironed out during the day on Wednesday.