Winter storm to spread heavy snow from North Dakota to Virginia

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:44 PM GMT on March 04, 2013

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The flakes are flying in Minnesota and North Dakota, where up to 10" of snow has fallen from an "Alberta Clipper" that is barreling southeastwards across the U.S. These type of storms, so-named because they originate in Alberta and clip along at a fast forward speed, typically bring the Midwest moderate amounts of fluffy snow that is relatively easy to shovel. The storm, dubbed Winter Storm Saturn by The Weather Channel and "Snowquester" by The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang, is expected to bring a swath of 6 - 10" of snow from Minnesota to Virginia Monday through Wednesday, with Chicago expected to get 6 - 9", their biggest snow of the season. Once the storm moves off the coast on Wednesday, its strong winds will make coastal flooding a major concern for the Mid-Atlantic coast, particularly Delaware, on Wednesday and Thursday. The computer models are still showing quite a bit of disagreement on what the storm might do on Wednesday. The European model has been the most consistent model, and maintains that the storm will not bring heavy snow to New England. I would lean towards this solution at present. However, keep in mind that the latest run of the GFS model shows a more northerly track, with heavy snow falling along a swath of coast from Long Island, NY, to Boston, MA, Wednesday through Thursday. The exact position of the rain/snow boundary along the Mid-Atlantic coast is also quite uncertain. Washington D.C. could end up with mostly rain, and just 1 - 2" of snow, or get a 6+ inch dumping, picking up more snow from one storm than from the all the snowstorms from the past two winters, combined:

Reagan Nat'l Airport (DCA):
- Snowfall this season-to-date:  1.5"
- Snowfall all last season:  2"
- Last 5"+ snow event:  Jan. 26, 2011 (5")
- Last 10"+ snow event:  Feb. 9-10, 2010 (10.8")

Dulles Airport, Virginia (IAD)
- Snowfall this season-to-date:  5.3"
- Snowfall all last season:  3.7"
- Last 5"+ snow event:  Jan. 26, 2011 (7.3")
- Last 10"+ snow event:  Feb. 9-10, 2010 (9.3")

(Thanks go to Jonathan Erdman of TWC for these stats.) The Capital Weather Gang has an interesting article on historical March snowstorms in Washington D.C. In order for Winter Storm Saturn to crack the top-ten, it would have to dump at least 6.6" of snow on the nation's capital.



Coastal flooding a concern in the Mid-Atlantic
As the storm moves off the coast on Wednesday night, winds gusting to 50 mph will build waves of up to 15' and a 3 - 4' storm surge along the coast to the north of the center. Heavy rains will bring runoff down rivers that will act to increase water levels along the coast. The latest Forecast Discussion from the Mount Holly, NJ NWS office highlights the likelihood of at least moderate coastal flooding in Delaware during the high tide cycles on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning, with the possibility of major flooding. The latest storm surge forecast from the GFS model calls for a storm surge of around 3' at Lewes, Delaware on Thursday morning, which would bring the 8th highest water level on record to the coast. This is of concern due to the damage Hurricane Sandy brought in October, which weakened the dunes and left the coast more vulnerable to erosion. Sandy brought the 3rd highest water level on record to Lewes.

We'll have ongoing coverage this week of Winter Storm Saturn in our Winter Storm Section.

Jeff Masters

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NWS Boston‏@NWSBoston

Confidence increasing that late Wed-Fri storm will impact our region. #NHwx #MAwx #RIwx #CTwx
Link
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Quoting Doppler22:

well... in PA yes... For example, if there is only 6" of snow then the roads will be cleared after a while and schools will close for only like 1 day. If there was 2' then (i'd be much happier) schools might close for a few days and PennDOT (PA Dept. of Transportation) will have to deploy the bigger plows to deal with blowing snow and a State of Emergency may be declared
So you prepare differently, knowing you may be house bound unable to get supplies. My best friend used to live outside Chicago and she told me of times they were snowed in for days. I just can't fathom that, even though I have seen pictures. It boggles my mind.
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The Weather Channel‏@weatherchannel

MT @mikeseidel: Live coverage-Chicago starting Tues 6amET. It'll be their biggest storm of the season if they pick up more than 6" of snow
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PAY ATTENTION WASH DC AREA....................URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON DC
1241 PM EST MON MAR 4 2013

DCZ001-MDZ003>007-009>011-013-014-501-502-VAZ028- 030-031-036>040-
042-050>056-501-502-WVZ050>053-503-504-050145-
/O.CON.KLWX.WS.A.0004.130305T2300Z-130307T0500Z/
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA-WASHINGTON-FREDERICK MD-CARROLL-
NORTHERN BALTIMORE-HARFORD-MONTGOMERY-HOWARD-SOUTHERN BALTIMORE-
PRINCE GEORGES-ANNE ARUNDEL-EXTREME WESTERN ALLEGANY-
CENTRAL AND EASTERN ALLEGANY-FREDERICK VA-WARREN-CLARKE-NELSON-
ALBEMARLE-GREENE-MADISON-RAPPAHANNOCK-LOUDOUN-ORA NGE-CULPEPER-
PRINCE WILLIAM/MANASSAS/MANASSAS PARK-FAIRFAX-
ARLINGTON/FALLS CHURCH/ALEXANDRIA-STAFFORD-SPOTSYLVANIA-
NORTHERN FAUQUIER-SOUTHERN FAUQUIER-HAMPSHIRE-MORGAN-BERKELEY-
JEFFERSON-WESTERN MINERAL-EASTERN MINERAL-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...WASHINGTON...HAGERSTOWN...FREDERICK...
WESTMINSTER...GAITHERSBURG...COLUMBIA...BALTIMORE ...ANNAPOLIS...
FROSTBURG...CUMBERLAND...WINCHESTER...FRONT ROYAL...
CHARLOTTESVILLE...LEESBURG...CULPEPER...MANASSAS. ..
MANASSAS PARK...FAIRFAX...ALEXANDRIA...FALLS CHURCH...
FREDERICKSBURG...WARRENTON...MARTINSBURG...CHARLE S TOWN...
ELK GARDEN...KEYSER...FORT ASHBY
1241 PM EST MON MAR 4 2013

...WINTER STORM WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM TUESDAY EVENING
THROUGH WEDNESDAY EVENING...

* PRECIPITATION TYPE...SNOW.

* ACCUMULATIONS...MORE THAN 5 INCHES POSSIBLE...WITH THE POTENTIAL
FOR MORE THAN A FOOT SOMEWHERE WITHIN THE WATCH AREA.

* TIMING...PRECIPITATION MIXING WITH AND CHANGING TO SNOW
TUESDAY NIGHT. SNOW CONTINUING THROUGH WEDNESDAY EVENING.

* TEMPERATURES...IN THE LOWER AND MID 30S.

* WINDS...NORTHEAST 10 TO 20 MPH TUESDAY NIGHT...BECOMING NORTH
WINDS 15 TO 25 MPH WEDNESDAY WITH GUSTS UP TO 35 MPH.

* IMPACTS...DIFFICULT DRIVING CONDITIONS. HEAVY WET SNOW AND
GUSTY WINDS COULD LEAD TO POWER OUTAGES.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A WINTER STORM WATCH MEANS THERE IS A POTENTIAL FOR SIGNIFICANT
SNOW ACCUMULATIONS THAT MAY IMPACT TRAVEL. CONTINUE TO MONITOR
THE LATEST FORECASTS.

&&

$$
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38478
Quoting Jarhead6012:
Right now I am under a Winter Storm Watch and they are saying 4-8 with locally higher amounts. I am in NW Ohio and under the gun it looks like. I already told my boss not to expect me in Wendsday if this thing hits like they are saying it might. I have a 65 mile commute, not worth it if we get anything over 8" by Wendsday AM.
Jarhead.... Do you mind if I use that on my boss? I am in south Florida...I won't be in today...The lovebugs have absolutely covered my windshield... I can't freekin' see... Hope it works. Thanks for the suggestion
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Quoting Doppler22:

Yeah, according to them i'd get close to nothing... that'd kill me....

But State College hasn't issued any maps and its frustrating me


Well, if thats the case, I'm already dead. Been dead a long time. :-P No snow...
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NAM calling this snowstorm a colossal snowstorm???...For the NYC area
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Quoting kwgirl:
Since I have lived in the tropics all my life so I have what may be a dumb question. Does it matter how much snow you get? Do you do anything different to prepare for the 6" vs the 2 feet? Just curious.

well... in PA yes... For example, if there is only 6" of snow then the roads will be cleared after a while and schools will close for only like 1 day. If there was 2' then (i'd be much happier) schools might close for a few days and PennDOT (PA Dept. of Transportation) will have to deploy the bigger plows to deal with blowing snow and a State of Emergency may be declared
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting kwgirl:
Since I have lived in the tropics all my life so I have what may be a dumb question. Does it matter how much snow you get? Do you do anything different to prepare for the 6" vs the 2 feet? Just curious.


Yes it can make a HUGE difference, 6" is an inconvience for the most part. Roads are still passable just slow. When you start to get over 10+ then you run into issues keeping the roads clear enough to drive, and if it is a heavy wet snow then you have to worry about tree limbs coming down, roof's collapsing, etc.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Good Afternoon. Per TWC, we are on the "S" storm; assuming, for a moment, that we get 7 more winter storms over the next several weeks; do they have contingent names for an eighth, like NHC during a hyper-active H-Season like 2005, if a few late ones dip down in April?............i.e Winter Storm "Alpha"?....

Just asking if anyone knows; not suggesting it would actually happen............... :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Right now I am under a Winter Storm Watch and they are saying 4-8 with locally higher amounts. I am in NW Ohio and under the gun it looks like. I already told my boss not to expect me in Wendsday if this thing hits like they are saying it might. I have a 65 mile commute, not worth it if we get anything over 8" by Wendsday AM.
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Quoting Doppler22:

York County, PA

and it says 6" and more but someone told me a foot and someone told me 2 feet so I have no clue for how much
Since I have lived in the tropics all my life so I have what may be a dumb question. Does it matter how much snow you get? Do you do anything different to prepare for the 6" vs the 2 feet? Just curious.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Nam always does this to me...

#SW CT wx Info
NAM goes from giving SW CT a general 2-4 inches at 12z to NOW giving SW CT what seems to be a foot of snow at18z and the run isn't done yet.

For Nemo, it said I was getting near 30", I got 21" in reality, not far off though.
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Quoting Doppler22:

Yeah, according to them i'd get close to nothing... that'd kill me....

But State College hasn't issued any maps and its frustrating me


you're right I can't find any either...for now just stick to the winter watch...
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


I not buying the map of forecast snow from Baltimore NWS...absolutely not... you will get a significant amount

Yeah, according to them i'd get close to nothing... that'd kill me....

But State College hasn't issued any maps and its frustrating me
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


I not buying the map of forecast snow from Baltimore NWS...absolutely not... you will get a significant amount.

I'll have my snowmap in about 2 hours for the Mid Atlantic only.


If you look at the bottom of that map, it says it's only valid at 6am on Weds... the storm hasn't even started yet...
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Quoting PalmBeachWeather:
I guess cousin "IT".. That was my thought


I was thinking about that too... it was a pretty silly post anyway, unless he was trying to put up a picture
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
135 trHUrrIXC5MMX: 2 feet??? what?
136 Grothar: I saw it first.

And that is how the Snake lost it's feet.
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Quoting Doppler22:

Move Northward :p


LOL! Sure, I'll move northward. *walks two steps north* see, I moved north. :-P

LOL
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Doppler22:

Yes, yes it is

I cant get a definite amount... because when I say York County, everyone says oh most of that county will not get much... but im on the southern half closer to MD... so I should get more


I not buying the map of forecast snow from Baltimore NWS...absolutely not... you will get a significant amount.

I'll have my snowmap in about 2 hours for the Mid Atlantic only.
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Quoting WunderGirl12:


But you all still get WAY more than I do. :'-(

Move Northward :p
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


what did you see?
I guess cousin "IT".. That was my thought
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Doppler22:

Yes, yes it is

I cant get a definite amount... because when I say York County, everyone says oh most of that county will not get much... but im on the southern half closer to MD... so I should get more


But you all still get WAY more than I do. :'-(
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my twitter...

Danbury/Naugatuck WX ‏@danburyweather
Second highest impact storm of the East Coast so far this winter coming up? Looking more and more likely.

SW CT Weather Info ‏@SWCTweather
Even the low definition NMM at 15z shifted north and had more significant precip into the SW CT area, especially closer to the coast.

SW CT Weather Info ‏@SWCTweather
18z NAM coming out noticeably northwest with the precipitation shield as well, resulting in moderate/heavy precip across SW CT.

NAM... I know that one...

I'll take some few inches from this...but still unsure
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


Oww, I see. I also checked out your location, Baltimore, MD is straight south of your county

Yes, yes it is

I cant get a definite amount... because when I say York County, everyone says oh most of that county will not get much... but im on the southern half closer to MD... so I should get more
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Quoting Grothar:
I saw it first.


Saw what? it is a pronoun, and it is not to be used without a proper noun in context. It is wrong...lol
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Quoting Doppler22:

idk... some guy screamed out in the middle of a store WERE GETTING 2 FEET! I doubt that but I thought it was worth mentioning :p


Oww, I see. I also checked out your location, Baltimore, MD is straight south of your county
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Quoting Doppler22:

idk... some guy screamed out in the middle of a store WERE GETTING 2 FEET! I doubt that but I thought it was worth mentioning :p


LOL Doppler! That man SURE sounded excited...lol
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Quoting Grothar:
I saw it first.


what did you see?
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


2 feet??? what?

idk... some guy screamed out in the middle of a store WERE GETTING 2 FEET! I doubt that but I thought it was worth mentioning :p
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I saw it first.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26131
Quoting Doppler22:

York County, PA

and it says 6" and more but someone told me a foot and someone told me 2 feet so I have no clue for how much


2 feet??? what?
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Philly, NWS


DC/BAL NWS


Pitt, NWS


My NYC NWS...expecting an update


nothing from Mass, NWS
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


for how much..?? I keep forgetting where you live at

York County, PA

and it says 6" and more but someone told me a foot and someone told me 2 feet so I have no clue for how much
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Still looks to be some variability in the 24-36 hr time frame here. I'm assuming we will see winter storm warnings fill in a bit to the south in Northern Illinois. I'm hugging the southern side of this system as close as one can. I'm guessing my county will be the southern most outlier to get a winter weather advisory which will likely correspond to a 2-4" type of event.



Time of the phasing will have dramatic impacts on snow fall amounts across Eastern Illinois and Central Indiana.

Low track continues to ever so slightly drift southward in the 12-36 hour time frame.



HPC Winter Discussions.

A SIGNIFICANT UPPER TROUGH/SHORT WAVE WILL TRACK FROM THE NRN
ROCKIES/PLAINS TO THE MID-ATL COAST OVER THE NEXT THREE DAYS...
PRODUCING WIDESPREAD WINTER WEATHER AND HVY SNOW. AFTER TODAY
THOUGH...THIS FCST BECOMES RATHER UNCERTAIN FROM WI/IA/IL TO THE
DELMARVA WITH ENOUGH MODEL SPREAD TO WHERE 100 TO 300 MILES
DIFFERENCE ON THE TRACK OF THE SYSTEM WILL HAVE HUGE IMPACT ON
SNOWFALL AMOUNTS FOR PLACES LIKE CHICAGO AND THE DC/BALTIMORE
AREA

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Quoting Doppler22:
Im under a Winter Storm Watch :D


for how much..?? I keep forgetting where you live at
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Quoting MAweatherboy1:
Good afternoon. I'm very surprised by the northward trend in the models, I really thought this thing would stay far enough south to spare New England, but now it's looking like I could end up with several inches of heavy, wet snow.


so am I, my NWS and yours has been issuing and taking away HWOs.
Now I see they put up one no for coastal areas in CT and all NYC, LI.

"I could get snow" but adding questions marks at the end of that statement
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Im under a Winter Storm Watch :D
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Quoting VR46L:


Its hard to Know ... GFS could pull a Debby and the Euro is due a major mistake but to be honest with 3 models agreeing its hard to see past the euro solution ... Time will tell .. You could make one of each and see how the 18z GFS goes.


good point there VR46L... I could so one for Mid Atlantic, no doubt about the snow there, and another one for New England as GFS says...

Models have to agree on this soon, especially the GFS has to get in line. Not saying the New England snow is not going to happen but..um.. idk.
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873




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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
New GFS has quite a strong LLJ for such a weak trough:


I believe you may have gotten your models mixed up. That frame is from the ECMWF.
Member Since: August 2, 2006 Posts: 46 Comments: 11667


Arctic Ocean sea ice area is now at its greatest annual extent, and will now start to decline. It's at exactly the same areal extent as this time last year.

2012 set a record summer low ice area by a large margin, partly due to an unseasonal storm which broke up much of the ice.

If 2013 were to set a new record, that would be quite an event, and strong evidence that Arctic Ocean summer ice cover will disappear (apart from small coastal vestiges) in the near future. Just 10 years ago, climate models were still predicting total summer loss arond 2100. Makes you wonder how much else have they've got seriously wrong.

Given that last year's record was 'helped' by a storm, I'd guess that 2013 will probably not beat the record. If I was a bookmaker, I'd put the odds at about 2/1 against.
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:



This place a ghosttown, I'm just thankful the blog is running...
It should ramp up during the blizzard though.

Anyway I have to go.
Keep running the blog ladies. :)
Yes.. and we keep you boys happy with our cooking! When all those tostidos are gone... you will be in deep trouble guys.
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123. VR46L
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


I want to do my snowmap soon but I don't know whether to include the New England snow or not


Its hard to Know ... GFS could pull a Debby and the Euro is due a major mistake but to be honest with 3 models agreeing its hard to see past the euro solution ... Time will tell .. You could make one of each and see how the 18z GFS goes.
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New GFS has quite a strong LLJ for such a weak trough:

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Good afternoon. I'm very surprised by the northward trend in the models, I really thought this thing would stay far enough south to spare New England, but now it's looking like I could end up with several inches of heavy, wet snow.
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Quoting ncstorm:
I just love the women running things on WU..

Girl Power!

I'm out till later..



This place a ghosttown, I'm just thankful the blog is running...
It should ramp up during the blizzard though.

Anyway I have to go.
Keep running the blog ladies. :)
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Quoting VR46L:


It appears that they dont want to completely discount the GFS solution despite Euro , UKMET and CMC all advocating it going to sea around Virginia


I want to do my snowmap soon but I don't know whether to include the New England snow or not
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Ryan Maue‏@RyanMaue

Always looking ahead -- ECMWF 12z has massive snow-storm +7days for Western Plains & then severe weather as it pulls through SE
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117. VR46L
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:
This was just issued for my area north of NYC..

201 PM EST MON MAR 4 2013

THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR SOUTHERN
CONNECTICUT...NORTHEAST NEW JERSEY AND SOUTHEAST NEW YORK.

.DAY ONE...THIS AFTERNOON AND TONIGHT.

HAZARDOUS WEATHER IS NOT EXPECTED AT THIS TIME.

.DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN...TUESDAY THROUGH SUNDAY.

FORECAST UNCERTAINTY SURROUNDS THE EXACT DETAILS OF HOW THIS STORM
WILL EVOLVE...BUT THE POTENTIAL EXISTS FOR:

* SEVERAL INCHES OF SNOW.
* WIND GUSTS OF 50 TO 60 MPH.

* MINOR TO MODERATE COASTAL FLOODING.
* HIGH SURF AND SIGNIFICANT BEACH EROSION ALONG THE OCEAN FACING
BEACHES AND TWIN FORKS OF LONG ISLAND.

so it's going to be cold enough for snow for SW coastal CT/NYC


It appears that they dont want to completely discount the GFS solution despite Euro , UKMET and CMC all advocating it going to sea around Virginia
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
This was just issued for my area north of NYC..

201 PM EST MON MAR 4 2013

THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR SOUTHERN
CONNECTICUT...NORTHEAST NEW JERSEY AND SOUTHEAST NEW YORK.

.DAY ONE...THIS AFTERNOON AND TONIGHT.

HAZARDOUS WEATHER IS NOT EXPECTED AT THIS TIME.

.DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN...TUESDAY THROUGH SUNDAY.

FORECAST UNCERTAINTY SURROUNDS THE EXACT DETAILS OF HOW THIS STORM
WILL EVOLVE...BUT THE POTENTIAL EXISTS FOR:

* SEVERAL INCHES OF SNOW.
* WIND GUSTS OF 50 TO 60 MPH.

* MINOR TO MODERATE COASTAL FLOODING.
* HIGH SURF AND SIGNIFICANT BEACH EROSION ALONG THE OCEAN FACING
BEACHES AND TWIN FORKS OF LONG ISLAND.

so it's going to be cold enough for snow for SW coastal CT/NYC
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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