Winter lovers in the northeastern United States have been disappointed by a generally mild January thus far, but forecasters say a return to conditions more typical of the first month of the year is underway.
To end the week and begin the weekend, a storm system pushed across the Great Lakes and into the Northeast and spread an expansive swath of snow across these regions. Accumulating snow from this storm also blanketed portions of the Ohio and Tennessee valleys.
As this storm tracks out of the Northeast and into Atlantic Canada on Sunday, snowfall totals will continue to increase across northern New England. By Monday morning, a large swath of well over a foot of snow is expected where snow through the weekend is most persistent, with an AccuWeather Local StormMax&trade of 30 inches.
Through Sunday morning, several locations in the Adirondacks and Green and White Mountains had already received as much as 16 inches of snow, with plenty more on the way.
While significant snow continues to fall in New England on Sunday, generally lighter snow showers will linger farther west and target areas from Illinois and Michigan to West Virginia and Pennsylvania. With the exception of areas downwind of lakes Michigan, Erie and Ontario, additional snow accumulations of less than an inch are likely across the Midwest and portions of the Northeast on Sunday.
Forecasters say the snowy conditions that have overspread the Midwest and Northeast the last few days are the first signs of a more significant pattern change.
"The atmospheric pattern is setting up in a manner that will deliver multiple rounds of relatively weak storm systems diving southward from central Canada over the next week or so," AccuWeather Meteorologist Brandon Buckingham said. "These storm systems will not feature ample amounts of moisture within them, so overall snowfall accumulations within each passing disturbance should remain relatively light."
The first in a string of weak systems will develop over the Great Lakes on Monday and bring snow showers and flurries to much of the northeastern quarter of the country through early week.
"Although major snowfall accumulations are not expected across a majority of the Midwest and Northeast over the coming week, the rounds of light snowfall will likely cause travel issues for some," Buckingham explained. "Sometimes, a light snowfall event can give drivers a false sense of security in thinking that road conditions may not be so bad, but at times, these 'minor' snowfall events can actually lead to more traffic accidents than major snowstorms."
Travelers, especially those on interstates 80, 86 and 90, will need to remain weather aware for much of the week and monitor for rapidly changing conditions.
The center of Monday's weak storm will push east by Tuesday and track into the Northeast. Another round of snow showers will likely target the same areas blanketed by snow over the weekend, including portions of New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
In the wake of this storm, the lake-effect snow machine will rumble to life once again later Tuesday.
"Over the next week, the zone of steadiest snow and highest accumulations are expected to reside downwind of the Great Lakes," Buckingham said. "With overall ice coverage at a measly 1.8 across the Great Lakes, the cold air tracking over the relatively warm water will help to enhance snowfall accumulation in the typical snow belts."
Another weak storm is possible on Thursday with nearly identical impacts to Tuesday's storm expected.
In addition to snowflakes flying in the air and some accumulating on pavement to create slippery travel this week, a return to colder, more typical conditions this week will add to the wintry feel.
Into at least midweek, high temperatures each day will top out in the 30s from the Great Lakes to portions of Pennsylvania and southern New York, with 10s and 20s for much of interior New England. Temperatures in this range are more akin to normal mid-January conditions for the Midwest and Northeast.
Conditions so far this January have been unusually mild for much of the Midwest and Northeast. As of Sunday morning, locations like Toledo, Ohio, and Springfield, Mass., have recorded temperature departures from average so far this month of a whopping +8.1 degrees Fahrenheit and +7.5 degrees respectively.
AccuWeather forecasters have been monitoring the return of very cold Arctic air to the northern tier of the United States. With each weak system that dives through the Midwest and Northeast this week, chillier and chillier air will be able to settle over these portions of the country.