The “Warm” Side Of A Midwestern Blizzard

Surface map Tuesday morning...click for larger image

Although some icy spots will be possible from central Maryland north into Pennsylvania through early Wednesday morning, we’ll actually be on the warm side of the developing midwestern blizzard.  Brutally cold arctic high pressure is centered over Montana where the temperature dropped to 40 below zero at Jordan.  On the edge of the arctic air mass, the low pressure system that will bring blizzard conditions to much of the midwest is deepening over the Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana border area. On the warm side of the storm, a tornado watch has been posted for most of Louisiana.

10:00 p.m. Tuesday: Midwestern blizzard moving into Ohio Valley

10:00 am Wednesday: Blizzard over Lake Erie

The low is forecast to move northeast and intensify as it tracks into the Ohio Valley tonight, then north/northeast across lake Erie Wednesday morning.   On this track the Chicago area is expecting 15-30″ of snow, wind gusts to 55 mph, and sub-zero wind chills tonight and early Wednesday.  Here on the “warm” side of the blizzard, we will have to deal with periods of drizzle and temperatures hovering around freezing, creating a few icy spots through the afternoon.  We should also prepare for another round of freezing rain, and possibly some sleet, as the storm begins to make its move northeast tonight, especially across northern Maryland and southern Pennsylvania.

 

Convective Available Potential Energy Wednesday morning

Lifted Index Wednesday morning

As the storm continues to gain strength, a surge of warm air east of the low pressure system will push into parts of the mid Atlantic Wednesday.  It is possible temperatures will climb into the 50s and 60s in parts of Maryland and Virginia, although it is not clear if that unseasonably warm air will reach as far north and west as Baltimore.  In the warm air, conditions are forecast to become unstable and a few thunderstorms may develop.  So a day that begins with some freezing rain, may end with a clap of spring-like thunder for parts of Maryland.  Another fascinating storm in the winter of 2010-2011!

Tom Tasselmyer

 

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