Temperature Swings, Snowstorm Risk to Continue Next Week
By Alex Sosnowski, Expert Senior Meteorologist
March 07, 2014; 9:50 AM
March is often a month on the wild side in terms of powerful storms and temperature extremes.
This month has fit into that mold thus far and will continue to be a tug of war between two seasons: winter and spring.
This March has gotten off to a tremendous cold start over much of the Central and Eastern states. Temperature departures as of Friday, March 7, 2014, have reached 10 to 20 degrees below average for a number of locations.
During the first week of the month, a series of storms have hit the West, producing flooding rain and heavy mountain snow. The stormy pattern in the Northwest will continue later this weekend after a brief lull.
A snow and ice storm turned south last weekend in the Ohio Valley and East. A second snow and ice storm this past week hit the South. However, by no means does this suggest that all future storms this month will take the same path due to March's wild side and mood swings.
Despite a cold start, mild air will be quite successful in visiting the South, Northeast and part of the Midwest this weekend into early next week. Temperatures are forecast to reach the 70s in much of the South, part of the Ohio Valley and the mid-Atlantic one or more days.
AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams described March as a month where, "We peer out and the door to winter's dungeon creaks open."
Mild temperatures and a lull in major storms often do not last very long during the month.
"March around the Great Lakes, New England and much of the mid-Atlantic is cold and stormy more often than it is warm and tranquil," Northeast Weather Expert Dave Dombek said. "April is about fifty-fifty and usually it is not until May when warm, tranquil weather makes up the majority of days."
The weather for the middle of next week will depend on the track and strength of a storm forecast to develop over the Plains.
If the storm takes a more southern route, snow and ice will stretch from the central Plains to the Ohio Valley and part of the mid-Atlantic. However, a more northerly track could take snow and ice toward part of the Great Lakes and New England.
The timing of the potential storm for next week is likely to be Wednesday and Thursday.
A swiftly developing storm would be more likely to track farther north, than a weaker storm.
In the storm's cold sector, a large zone of travel disruptions is likely. Whether those disruptions last part of a day or a couple of days is yet to be determined.
According to Senior Meteorologist Bernie Rayno, "Delays and disruptions are likely for at least part of the Midwest and the Northeast with this storm. However, people should not yet make alterations to plans, because of the uncertainty of the storm's path, precipitation type and intensity."
Snowfall accumulations are still uncertain at this time.
The storm could bring a mere few inches of snow, if it is weak and fast moving. However, if the storm strengthens enough and slows its forward speed, there could be a couple of pockets of heavy snow, which may be a real back-breaker to shovel in some locations.
The time of the day the snow occurs will also have an impact, thanks to the strengthening March sun effect.
At this early stage, odds favor a track farther north than last weekend's storm due to a less forceful push of cold air, but probably not so far north that it will cut across the upper Great Lakes. The polar vortex hanging out near Hudson Bay, Canada, is likely to prevent a far northerly track.
No matter what form or amount of precipitation falls with the midweek storm, colder air will follow for a couple of days later next week. However, since March is a weather battle zone, another tease of warmth will not likely be too far behind.