In only the last three weeks, since Jan. 21, The Weather Channel has named six winter storms. They've ranged from Janus, which clobbered parts of the I-95 Northeast corridor in late January, to a pair of Southern snowstorms, Kronos and Leon — the second of which crippled travel in both Birmingham and Atlanta. There have also been the more expansive winter storms, Maximus and Nika.
Whether you're suffering winter fatigue or relishing all of the snow days, it appears the parade of storms will continue this week. Let's start with the first wintry threat, southern-style.
Snow and Ice in South
The southern side of this storm will begin as several previous events, including Leon, did. Instead of a well-defined low pressure system, there will instead be a broad area of moist, rising air across the South as very cold air builds in from the north as an arctic high pressure bubble builds southward from the Midwest. This is what will produce a stripe of wintry weather. Indeed, through Monday and Tuesday there probably won't be a low pressure center to track at all.
The wintry mess starts in earnest Monday morning, as a stripe of snow, sleet and freezing rain will develop in parts of Kansas, Oklahoma and possibly extreme north Texas. It will then spread eastward into the Mid-South region.
Several inches of snow and sleet may accumulate by early Monday evening in parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas, and possibly parts of west Tennessee and northern Mississippi. Travel may become hazardous in these areas by midday Monday.
Monday night into Tuesday, cold air near the surface will continue to build in the Tennessee Valley and down the Piedmont of the southern Appalachians.
This means precipitation may change from rain to freezing rain in parts of northeast Texas, northern Louisiana, southern Arkansas, northern and central Mississippi, northern Alabama, and northwest Georgia Monday night into Tuesday.
At this early juncture, it's unclear whether surface temperatures will remain below freezing for a sufficient time period Tuesday to lead to significant travel disruption.
At the same time, snow will shift out of Arkansas and Oklahoma into Tennessee and North Carolina Monday night into Tuesday. Snow is also possible for the northernmost counties of Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. Some sleet or freezing rain may fan out over parts of southern North Carolina and northern South Carolina.
Already, the National Weather Service has posted winter storm watches from Arkansas to northern Georgia, meaning there is the potential for adverse winter weather conditions. Be sure to monitor the forecast if you have travel plans in these areas.
(MAP: Southeast Weather Alerts)
Tuesday night into Wednesday, the wintry mess of snow, sleet and freezing rain will likely linger in the southern Appalachians and adjacent Piedmont of north Georgia and the western Carolinas while spreading farther east into central North Carolina and the South Carolina Midlands and northward into Virginia and the Delmarva Peninsula.
Meanwhile, a second ripple of energy will approach from the west. This may lead to some additional wintry precipitation over parts of Mississippi, Alabama, and middle and west Tennessee, though confidence on the timing and details of this second piece of energy is still relatively low.
While it's still too early for precise snowfall totals in these areas Tuesday into Wednesday, even light snow and/or sleet or ice accumulations could make travel difficult.
The second piece of energy we just mentioned in the Southern section of the forecast will finally contribute to the development of a low pressure center over the northeastern Gulf of Mexico or eastern Gulf Coast by Wednesday. This low is then forecast to move in a generally northeastward direction through Thursday and early Friday.
As is almost always the case, the exact track of the coastal low will be crucial. A track a bit farther offshore would draw snow toward the coast, while a farther inland track would shift the rain/snow line farther inland.
It is too soon to determine exactly where the surface low will track. Therefore, critical details including timing and who will see the most snow, who may see more rain than snow, and whether there will be any ice, such as we saw with Winter Storm Nika, are all quite uncertain.
Model scenarios currently range from a weak low scooting out to sea from the Southeast – to a major nor'easter – to an inland track that would keep the Megalopolis rainy with the snow farther inland. An average of the various model scenarios, as of Sunday morning, favors a low paralleling the East Coast but staying a few hundred miles offshore and strengthening as it moves northeast – in broadest terms, favorable for some sort of East Coast winter storm Wednesday night through early Friday.
There is a potential for significant accumulating snow in the Northeast, including the I-95 urban corridor, from late Wednesday through Thursday or early Friday. The forecast map for Thursday above (at right) represents our best forecast right now, but it's subject to change over the next few days.
Check back with us at weather.com and The Weather Channel for the latest updates on this upcoming winter storm.
MORE: Winter Storm Nika Photos
A commuter walks against blowing snow Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Chicago. Heavy, blowing snow is moving across much of Illinois as the state gets pelted by the latest round of winter weather. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)