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Coldest air of the season, lake-effect snow set to blast Northeast

By Nicole LoBiondo, AccuWeather.com
Coldest air of the season, lake-effect snow set to blast Northeast
Leaves change color with a view of the Empire State Building in fall weather near Washington Square Park in New York City on Wednesday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

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In the wake of a potent cold front that will track through the Northeast early Thanksgiving week, the coldest air of the season will bring temperatures plummeting to levels more typical of mid-December to the Great Lakes region and Northeast. The wintry chill will also fuel the lake-effect snow machine, sending snow squalls barreling across the region.

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As a storm brings rain to the Ohio Valley and into the Northeast through Sunday night, the cold front associated with the storm will sweep through and move offshore over the Atlantic Ocean by Monday afternoon. This front will usher in brisk conditions and lake-effect snow across the Great Lakes and interior Northeast.

"Across the Great-Lakes winds behind the cold front will shift to a more lake-effect favorable west/northwest direction, and combined with much colder air at the surface conditions will allow for lake-effect snow to form down-stream of the lakes," AccuWeather Meteorologist Grady Gilman said.

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With the Great Lakes still ice-free, heavy lake-effect bands will be able to materialize as the cold air presses over the relatively warm water.

"The core of the cold will be moving over the western Great Lakes Sunday setting off heavy lake-effect snow for areas downwind of Lake Superior and Lake Michigan into late Sunday afternoon," AccuWeather Meteorologist Matt Benz noted.

Winds will begin to turn more westerly and eventually southwesterly on Monday across the western Great Lakes which will cause the lake-effect snow to end across the snowbelts of Michigan, but not before several inches of snow accumulates in the region.

The snow will not end as quickly elsewhere across the region.

As the cold air marches east, bands of lake-effect snow will be ongoing downwind of Lake Huron, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario through Monday and Tuesday, especially for the snowbelts of New York and Pennsylvania. A general 1-3 inches of snow is expected across this region with upwards of 3-6 inches in and around Syracuse, N.Y.

The heaviest snow is expected to fall downwind of Lake Superior in the eastern portion of Michigan's Upper Peninsula and downwind of Lake Huron in Canada where 6-12 inches of snow is in the forecast. If there is a lake-to-lake connection between Lake Superior and Lake Huron, heavy snow squall bands could set up and bring snowfall totals nearing the AccuWeather Local StormMax&trade of 15 inches.

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AccuWeather meteorologists caution those traveling during Thanksgiving week around the Great Lakes as the visibility could be quickly reduced to near zero during heavy lake-effect snow bands and gusty winds. In these types of situations, it is not uncommon for pileups to occur on highways, which could shut down roads for hours.

For those who don't receive a taste of winter in the form of snowflakes, there will still be plenty of cold air served up by Old Man Winter.

After a few days of mild conditions from Chicago to Philadelphia during the middle of last week, much of the East will feel temperatures that are 5-15 degrees Fahrenheit below normal Monday and Tuesday.

Temperatures along the Interstate 95 corridor from Baltimore through Bangor, Maine, will struggle to reach the low 40s on Tuesday, but a cold wind will make it feel even colder. AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures are predicted to top out in the 20s and low 30s in the Northeast's big cities on Tuesday.

The colder-than-normal conditions will not be limited to just the Northeast. High temperatures may not climb out of the 40s as far south as Raleigh and Asheville, North Carolina.

The normal high in Raleigh for Nov. 23, is 61. From Boston to Washington, D.C., normal high temperatures are generally in the upper 40s to lower 50s.

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A blustery wind will also add to the cold. Those heading out first thing Tuesday morning across much of the interior Northeast will find AccuWeather RealFeel® temperatures in the lower teens and single digits.

RealFeel® temperatures in the 20s are forecast to dive as far south as Wilmington, North Carolina, where a widespread frost and freeze is expected. Even in the afternoon across much of the Northeast, RealFeel® temperatures will struggle to get out of the 20s and 30s.

Hats, gloves and scarves will be a must for kids waiting for the bus or walking to school. Tuesday morning will feel more like a late-January day, rather than late November.

The cold blast will be short-lived, however, as temperatures rebound into the upper 40s to middle 50s just in time for Thanksgiving for the East.

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