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March 2, 2011 / Dave Gorham

From Severe Storms to a Blizzard…Here’s an Outlook for the Coming Days

Just when you’re looking forward to spring in a few weeks, the two four-letter words are mentioned again…cold and snow. Who’s tired of this winter weather? I bet most of you are raising your hands! Over the next 48 to 72 hours, the weather looks fairly quiet across the Lower 48 as mostly dry and seasonal weather continues to the east of the Rockies towards the Gulf Coast and Atlantic Seaboard. Across the Pacific Northwest, a series of weak to moderate storm systems will continue to affect the central and northern Rockies bringing widespread lowland rain and mountain snow, generally above 4,000 feet.

As we head towards the weekend, a strong disturbance will move across the Great Plains Friday afternoon into the evening bringing a chance of strong thunderstorms with locally heavy rainfall from Arkansas to Indiana. Thunderstorms will shift quickly east and south across a large part of the Deep South and Ohio Valley on Saturday and eastward across the Atlantic Seaboard on Sunday. The main threats with any severe storm that develops will be large hail, strong wind gusts above 60 mph, intense lightning and isolated tornados. Locally heavy rainfall will also be possible with amounts averaging 1-3 inches, isolated up to 5 inches. The best chance of heavy rainfall will be in the area extending from central Alabama and north Georgia northward across the Ohio Valley to central New England.

Just north of the severe thunderstorm and heavy rainfall threat areas, widespread heavy wet snow and mixed freezing rain will be possible from northern Ohio and southeast Michigan northeastward across the interior northeast and southeast Canada. Even though it’s still a little too early to predict exact snowfall amounts, several ingredients are coming together which could lead to heavy accumulations of wet snow and mixed freezing rain across parts of this region this weekend.

Main weather concerns across the eastern half of the U.S. from March 4-7th. Image: ImpactWeather StormWatch

As the eastern system departs the area late Monday, our attention will shift farther to the west over the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains as another major winter storm system takes shape. Strong low pressure is forecast to quickly organize over the central Rockies later Monday and shift quickly east and northeast across the Central Plains and northern Great Lakes bringing a good chance of heavy snow from Utah to Minnesota and northern Wisconsin through Wednesday.

Snow is expected to increase in both coverage and intensity over Utah, Colorado and Wyoming Monday morning and afternoon, shifting quickly east across Nebraska and South Dakota during the evening hours and into Tuesday morning. The snow will spread quickly east across most of Minnesota, northern Wisconsin and the U.P. of Michigan Tuesday afternoon and evening. Be advised that several ingredients are coming together across this region of the country which may result in a heavy accumulation of snow. In addition to the snow, strong northerly winds will likely accompany this storm system resulting in the possibility of widespread blowing and drifting snow with blizzard conditions.

 

Possible blizzard conditions across the Plains March 7-9th. Image: ImpactWeather StormWatch

As this powerful low pressure system moves across the Plains, much colder Canadian air will surge southward across the Deep South and Atlantic Seaboard next Wednesday and Thursday. Freezing low temperatures will be possible over most inland parts of the Deep South later next week. Right now freezing temperatures are not expected to reach the immediate Gulf Coast, but areas just inland from the coast run the risk of seeing a light frost or freeze from south Texas through northern Florida.

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