By Jennifer Gray
Despite the fact spring is showing up early this year, we must remember winter isn’t over yet.
A major winter storm is set to impact millions this week, from coast to coast, with heavy snow, dangerous winds, possible blizzard conditions and for some, the coldest temperatures of the season.
What to expect this week:
- Widespread heavy snow
- Strong winds
- Blizzard conditions
- Sleet and freezing rain
- Severe thunderstorms
- Heavy rain
- Record low and high temperatures
The storm is already showing signs of life along the West Coast, as snow and rain is already falling across the Pacific Northwest, adding to their already blockbuster snow season.
“Storm total snowfall will likely be measured in feet for many of the mountain ranges across the West,” the Weather Prediction Center said.
The Cascade Mountains could see as much as three feet of snow in the highest elevations through Tuesday, while winds in the Pacific Northwest have the potential to gust up to 60 mph. Seas just offshore will be as high as 20 feet, bringing large, breaking waves to coastal areas, causing beach erosion.
By Tuesday, the storm expands into California and the Great Basin, bringing rain, snow and gusty winds, which could lead to power outages.
“The coldest storm of the season, and possibly of the last several years is expected to impact southwest (California) Wed-Fri or Sat with showers across coasts and valleys with mainly snow across the mountains and deserts,” the National Weather Service office in Los Angeles tweeted Sunday. “Snow or graupel may even occur across some elevated valleys!” Graupel refers to snow pellets resembling soft hail.
Parts of California could pick up as much two to three inches of rain, and up to three feet of snow through Wednesday, which could lead to travel headaches around some of the most densely populated areas.
“This amount of snow will result in the passes needing to be closed for a period of time which will impact traffic getting to and from Los Angeles,” The National Weather Service office in Hanford, California said.
The heavy snow and extreme cold will move into the Rockies and Midwest as well, where the storm could have its biggest effects.
Blizzard warnings are in place for southern Wyoming, where nearly two feet of snow and winds gusting more than 70 mph will create blinding conditions. The weather service also warns of wind chills falling to 25 degrees below zero.
The storm releases its fury on the Midwest Tuesday through Thursday, with two rounds of snow. The first round on Tuesday will bring four to six inches of snow to much of the region.
The big problems come in for the second round Wednesday night into Thursday. This is where we could see up to two feet of snow across the Midwest, along with 50 mph wind gusts. Travel will be nearly impossible during this time frame.
With the storm still a few days away, the weather service is still fine-tuning the details.
“If this forecast holds, Blizzard Warnings are likely for the second half of the storm. As for when and exactly where the threat transitions from snow load/poor roads to poor visibility and inability to travel, that will come as we get closer,” the weather service office in Twin Cities explained.
Thursday will also bring a swath of icy weather for some big cities, including Chicago. Ice could also be a problem for parts of the Ohio Valley, yet pinpointing exactly where it will occur is challenging this far out. Stay tuned with the forecast if you live in these areas, because freezing rain and sleet could halt your travel plans and even cause power outages.
While the northern half of the storm will be all snow, the southern half will be heavy rain. We could see strong storms develop on Wednesday for places like Dallas, Little Rock, Shreveport and Memphis. The Storm Prediction Center has highlighted the area as a region with the potential for large hail, damaging winds and possible tornadoes.
The storm does make it to the Northeast and New England by the end of the week. As of now, it looks like New York City is left out of the snow once again, however, Boston could get a couple of inches.
Things could change between now and then, but as of now much of the snowfall looks to be exclusively for the Interior Northeast and much of New England.
This week’s wild temperature swing
The winter part of this storm system will get most of the attention this week, but the temperature swing across the country cannot be ignored.
We could set more than 130 high temperature records across the Southeast Tuesday through Friday, with more than 40 record low temperatures possibly broken across the Northwest.
On Wednesday and Thursday, temperatures will run 30 to 40 degrees below normal for the northern Rockies and northern Plains, while temperatures run 20 to 30 degrees above normal for the Southeast and mid-Atlantic.
On Thursday, there could be a 100-degree temperature spread from North Dakota to Florida.
Whether you are buried under three feet of snow and experiencing frigid temperatures or basking in the sunshine and record warmth, this week will touch nearly all corners of the country with wild weather.