Runners jog across Avenue A in New York City on January 29 during a nor'easter storm that brought blizzard-like conditions to the East Coast. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Following a cold and snowy Easter weekend, an even more impactful nor'easter is headed to the northeastern United States next week, AccuWeather meteorologists say.
The region was sitting pretty this week with temperatures hitting a balmy 79 degrees Fahrenheit in New York City and 84 degrees in Washington, D.C.
But all that is quickly changing this weekend due to a cold front sweeping through the region, bringing with it an initial installment of wet, wintry weather. Rain showers are forecast to spread from the Great Lakes to the Interstate 95 corridor by late in the day Saturday.
"Since the atmosphere will become quite warm ahead of the front, some of the showers are likely to turn into thunderstorms that can produce gusty winds and even small hail along the mid-Atlantic and New England coasts during Saturday afternoon and evening," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.
Although there can be some stronger wind gusts or small hail, widespread severe weather is not expected.
This front is also anticipated to drop temperatures below average for western portions of the region as it travels from west to east. In doing so, snow will mix with rain in the higher elevations. By Saturday night, snow has the potential to become quite steady in northern New Hampshire and Maine.
Noticeably chillier conditions are expected to start off Sunday morning for many, with temperatures as much as 30 degrees lower than they were on Saturday morning.
"Lows on Easter Sunday morning will range from the mid-20s to the lower 30s over the mountains," added Sosnowski. Some residents of the Northeast could wake up to a slushy coating on grassy surfaces.
Throughout the holiday, snow showers are forecast to linger from central New York northward into Maine. Even in the dry areas, a cold pool of air will settle across the region, capping temperatures in the 50s for cities like Boston, Philadelphia and Washington on Sunday. The drop in temperatures on Sunday night could even prompt some frost and freezes.
The big-ticket item to watch for, however, will be the nor'easter on its way early week.
"Nor'easters can mean heavy snow for the I-95 corridor in winter but, now that we are well into April, most areas near the coast from southern New England to the mid-Atlantic are in line to see just rain between Monday and Tuesday," said AccuWeather Meteorologist Matt Benz.
Rain and thunderstorms are forecast to begin across much of the mid-Atlantic on Monday, with some particularly heavy thunderstorms along the Carolina Coast as the nor'easter begins to form.
"Low pressure will develop quickly off the Carolina Coast Monday before becoming a full-fledged nor'easter into Monday night and Tuesday as it tracks to the Northeast," explained Benz.
Rain should hold off until the afternoon on Monday for many of the I-95 cities like the Big Apple and Philadelphia. Once again, D.C. is expected to be stuck in the 50s on Monday afternoon, nearly 20 degrees below average.
"The exact track of this storm will ultimately determine how much rain and wind will impact the Eastern Seaboard," Benz said. There is a spectrum of ways the event could play out.
One option is for the track to follow the coast closely with a landfall in southern New England. This would likely produce heavy rainfall from Richmond, Va., and Philadelphia to New York and Boston and feature strong coastal winds. Nor'easters are named for their powerful northeasterly winds that occur in situations like these and can cause coastal flooding.
Alternatively, the storm could take a more eastern track off the coast of Cape Cod and spare the mid-Atlantic from this heavy rain and wind. New England, however, would still bear the brunt of the storm, Benz warned.
Either way, behind the storm, temperatures are set to drop Monday night and Tuesday into the 20s and 30s across the Northeast. Snow can mix in with the rain along the interior as temperatures drop, especially in mountainous areas, but exactly how much can still be debated.
"Snow can be a factor with this system, but how widespread the snow will be remains in question as that depends on how much cold air can be ingested into this system," said Benz.
Most of the snow is expected to fall Monday night or early Tuesday when temperatures are the lowest, but snow could begin in some areas as early as during the day on Monday, depending on how quickly the cold air sweeps in.
A swath of 1-3 inches of snow may extend from the higher terrain of southwestern Pennsylvania up into northern New England, while as much as half a foot of snow is forecast in portions of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
"While snow can certainly accumulate in the higher elevations of the Appalachians to New England into Tuesday, it may be difficult to see much for accumulation at lower elevations east of the Appalachians due to very warm ground temperatures," Benz added.
AccuWeather forecasters warn those with travel plans from the mountains of northern West Virginia and western Maryland to northern New York and northern Maine should keep tabs on the forecast for slushy and snowy conditions.
While many may think of snow as out of reach in April, meteorologists say this isn't necessarily the case. Snowflakes are typically seen across the Appalachians in most Aprils, and there usually tends to be at least a small accumulation of snow every two to three years in the central and southern portions of the mountain chain, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dave Dombek.
For the second half of the week, a stretch of cool and calm weather is on the way for the East. By next weekend, however, there can be moderation in temperatures or even a warmup as high pressure takes hold.