A four-letter word has entered the Northeast’s end-week forecast discussion - and it’s not just ‘rain’

Chicago Tribune 2 weeks ago

It may be Monday, but weather forecasters are focusing their attention on the end of the week and the potential for the first snow for parts of the Northeast.

No, it shouldn’t be like last year when a snow storm rapidly evolved into the area’s most potent November storm on record and dropped 8.1 inches at Lehigh Valley International Airport.

But this system, as expected for November, is shaping up to be a bit of a meteorological headache with a lot of moving parts. According to the weather service:

- One piece will come from a high pressure system to the north as one part of what meteorologists call a split-flow pattern.

- Another piece of the puzzle will come from a low pressure system expected to develop to our south and move off the coast.

- The strength and location of the high pressure system interjecting the cold air will determine just how far north the low-pressure system is able go.

Forecasters say the uncertainty comes from when the low pressure system actually develops. The weather service says some models show this not occurring until the arriving cold front is well to our south. In this scenario, the region would see cold but mostly dry weather.

Another scenario shows the low pressure system occurring closer to the region, leading to chances for precipitation: the potential for rain showers in the warm sector (or the region of warm surface air between a cold front and a warm front), and a mix of rain and snow well behind the front.

The weather service forecast office in Mount Holly is currently taking a “middle of the road solution" for Thursday. That means most of the region would have primarily warm sector precipitation (rain), while snow would be possible for the southern Poconos, Lehigh Valley, and northwest New Jersey.

At this point, forecasters stress there is far too much uncertainty on discussing how much snow would occur if this scenario holds. They’ll be keeping a close eye on things and advise area residents to prepare for changeable conditions late Thursday into Friday morning.

Unlike last year, when a mid-November storm saw snow start around noon, that certainly will not be the case this time. The projected daytime high on Thursday is 50 degrees. That means there’s not even a chance of a sloppy mix, but instead a rain storm likely to change to a rain/snow mix later on, then perhaps to snow showers for a short time Friday morning.

That’s the best-case scenario if anything about this storm changes. The timing still wouldn’t leave thousands of people spinning their tires on area roadways like last year’s storm did. Instead, people yearning for home should be able to get there without a problem Thursday night as long as everyone has the patience to deal with a little rain during a darkened rush hour.

Behind this system, meteorologists say a polar air mass will settle in over the weekend. By Saturday, temperatures could be 10 to 15 degrees or more below normal, with highs only getting into the low 40s.

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