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Jeremy Kappell

From Bitter Cold to Potential of Crippling Ice and Snow..

As I blogged about a week ago the coldest airmass in several seasons is now invading the Lower 48 with air temperature plummeting through the teens and single digits as far south as Texas and sub zero conditions are now in place across much of the Central and Northern Plains.  As of this writing, the mercury had plunged to near -20F across parts of North Dakota!  Factoring in the wind, it's even worse with current "feels like" temps running in the 30 to 40 degrees BELOW ZERO range. 

These are some absolute brutal conditions and unfortunately will likely result in loss of life, especially livestock.  Wind Chill Warnings have been posted for much of the region 

As I wrote about in the previous discussion, this set up is primed for a major if not a crippling winter storm.  The data has been consistently pointing to a pair of systems that will impact the Eastern US starting the week of the 14th.  For the sake of this post, we will be focusing on the first of these storms which looks to begin on Valentine's Day.   

Valentine's Day Storm

Models are coming into agreement on general timing and placement of a low pressure system that looks to eject out of the Rockies on Sunday spreading snow into the Central Plains and Southern Plains with the threat for an icy mixure of sleet, freezing rain and heavy snowfall all the way down to the Gulf Coast of Texas and Lousianna.

From there, the system will shift north and east as a frontal boundary sets across the Southeastern US where it will act as a focus for precipition which will come in a pair of waves on Monday and Monday Night.  The first looks to spread snow snowfall across the Middle MS River and into the Ohio River Valleys during the day on Monday with sleet and freezing rain setting up to the south across the Lower MS and the TN River Valley.

Freezing Rain Potential

As low pressure deepens along the stalled out front over the Northern Gulf of Mexico, a heavier shield of precipitation looks to develop starting late Monday and into Monday night with the potential for significant icing to develop across parts of MS, TN and Eastern KY and then eventually into parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Southern New England on Tuesday.

The current run of the Euro shown above highlights some of the areas at risk for significant freezing rain stretching from East Texas all the way up into Southern Maine.  

Heavy Snowfall

To the north, snow will be the story with the potential for VERY HEAVY snowfall for the Ohio River Valley, the Eastern Great Lakes and into Northern New England Monday night and into Tuesday.

How much are we talking about?

For some, this will be the heaviest snowfall in years with a large swath stretching from the Central/Southern Plains clear through the Ohio Valley with many locations potentially picking up a half foot or more.  Data shown here from the latest run of the Euro, which also has good support from the GFS and GEM, indicates that some will likely see higher totals than that with the potential for a foot plus in some locations across the Midwest. 

From there, the snow could get even heavier for parts of the Eastern Great Lakes and Northern New England where current data suggests one to two feet will be possible.  

What do I think?  

As I talked about last week, the stage is set for a major winter storm and this one looks like the real deal.  With that being said, we are still a few days out and models will no doubt shift with both the track and the intensity of this storm.  However at this range, it is becoming obvious that that many will be impacted by this storm and there will be plenty of cold to follow as well with a chunk of the bitter cold that is currently located over the Central US sliding east with MORE SUBZERO conditions in time. 

Also of note, as indicated by much of the recent model data, a second winter storm appears likely by late in the week (Next Thursday/Friday) for parts of the Eastern US.  

We will obviously have our hands full and lots to discuss in the coming days as details become more clear. 

Stay tuned. 

-Jeremy Kappell

Meteorologist, Speaker, Talk Show Host, Blogger and American Patriot

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