I want to be writing this as little as you want to be reading it: We’re in for another nor’easter this week.
If you live in the Northeast, you’re surely sick of the snow. If live anywhere else, you’re surely sick of hearing about it. And yet here we are, with a fourth nor’easter lining up to bring snow from Ohio to Maine midweek.
Are we calling it a four’easter? Sure, great, why not.
This week’s spirit crushing storm will start to take shape on Tuesday. That happens to be the first day of spring, thus definitively proving that nature has no chill.
Two weather systems will collude for the latest bout of midweek misery. The first is an area of low pressure currently bringing snow and rain to the Midwest (and increasing the risk of tornadoes in the Southeast on Monday night!). The first flakes will fly in the Appalachians and parts of the Mid-Atlantic on Tuesday. Snow will likely mix with rain nearer to the coast and thundersnow’s awkward cousin, thundersleet, is possible in the Washington, D.C. region according to Capital Weather Gang.
But it’s all a precursor to the main event, which will shape up on Tuesday night as the second low pressure system builds in the Atlantic. That system will tap tropical moisture and thrive off a big dip in the jet stream. Couple it with the chill dropping out of the Midwest, and you’ve got a recipe for snow, which will likely become more widespread by Wednesday up and down the I-95 corridor.
Right now, it’s looking like the Appalachians are in line for the biggest snow totals. Locations in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia looking at a foot or more of springtime snow.
For coastal areas, there’s still some uncertainty about just how high the snow totals will get, but it looks like up to 6 inches of snow could fall in some locations east of I-95. It all depends on just how far northwest the storm tracks. Late last week, it was looking like the storm would stay further out to sea, reducing snow totals. But models have been trending toward higher snow totals for coastal New Jersey and New York, and Massachusetts, which, I’m sorry. It will also be of the heavy, wet variety, which is good for snowballs and a pain for shoveling.
But hey, it’s not all bad news!
Higher snowfall totals don’t necessarily mean blockbuster accumulations. Because the sun is at a higher angle than it was earlier this month, any snow that does fall should melt quicker.
Astronomical tides are also much lower than they were when the first nor’easter hit way back [checks calendar] 17 days ago. That will lower the risk of coastal flooding substantially. This storm will also likely be less windy.
The active streak of weather is being driven in part by the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). The negative phase of the NAO is characterized by a strong ridge of high pressure over Greenland that does two things to storms on the East Coast. First, it can cause low pressure systems to drop lower as they essentially attempt balance the atmosphere. Second, it can slow storms from leaving the region, which can cause snow and other impacts to pile up.
The NAO started March in record low territory. It started climbing toward neutral before dipping over the past five days. While not near early March’s intensity, the negative NAO is almost certainly playing a role in this week’s sadness-inducing storm.
By next week, the forecast indicates it could finally flip to neutral or even positive, which could spell the end (or at least a reprieve) from our nor’easter hell. The odds of a warm spring are also mercifully in our favor not just in the Northeast, but basically every corner of the country but the Northern Rockies. There could be just one other, tiny speed bump to get to the sweet release of heat, though.
We could see another nor’easter this weekend. Byeee.