East Coast storm deepens; biggest travel impacts today and Wednesday

Nordic Outbreak 

You can feel it in the air today. The macho is back in Minnesota’s weather. Wind chill is the new weather buzz word. An arctic breeze is blowing, and an unwelcome spring is in your step as you try and get somewhere warm.

For the metro it’s the cold. Temps will not recover out of the teens today on gusty frigid northwest winds. Wind chills will hover near or below zero all day. There will be some moderation this week, but not much.

(Image: Twin Cities NWS)

Lake effect snow machine cranks up

To the north and east, it’s lake-effect snow time. The frigid winds blow over still relatively warm waters. The result is heavy snow bands that can pile up to a foot in some places. Northern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula will see the most snow.

(Image: Duluth NWS)

Thanksgiving nor’easter deepens today

After dumping heavy rains in Texas and the south Monday, our Thanksgiving week nor’easter makes the turn up the East Coast today and Wednesday. Traveling to Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, Philly, Buffalo, New York or Boston this week? You will want to pay close watch to airport delays and road conditions out east. The Weather Channel has a nice graphic showing rain along the coast and potentially heavy inland snow Wednesday.

(Image: The Weather Channel)

Anatomy of a nor’easter

Here are the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s surface forecast positions, which winds up the low pressure storm over the next 72 hours as it tracks northeast along the Atlantic Coast.

By midday Tuesday, the storm center is in Alabama, spreading rain northward into Virginia and Washington, D.C. There may be some icing Tuesday morning in Tennessee and the Ohio Valley.

(Image: NOAA Weather Prediction Center)

By Wednesday, the storm is deepening as the center ‘phases’ with a northern low crossing the Great Lakes. Rain is heavy and widespread along the coasts and in the major east coast cities. Heavy snow is falling in the colder air to the west.

(Image: NOAA Weather Prediction Center)

By Wednesday evening the storm is rapidly deepening, and moving quickly toward Canada. Weather conditions should rapidly improve as moisture pulls north by Thanksgiving Day, except where lake-effect snows will continue in western New York and Pennsylvania snow belts as arctic air pours south behind the system.

(Image: NOAA Weather Prediction Center)

Coastal rain, heavy snow inland

Most of the big coastal cities will see mainly rain, with a little nuisance wet snow on the back side. But inland it will be a different story. If you are planning travel by car to or anywhere near Buffalo or Pittsburgh, expect increasingly heavy wet wind-driven snow Tuesday night and Wednesday. Lake-effect snow squalls will linger into Thanksgiving Day in western New York and Pennsylvania.

A band of 6- to 12-inch snow will set up there, with some isolated snow totals of 18 inches possible in the lake-effect snow belts before the storm winds down Thanksgiving Day.

(Image: NOAA)

Here’s a closer look at forecast snowfall totals in western New York from the Buffalo, New York office of the National Weather Service:

(Image: Buffalo NWS)

Airport delays likely Tuesday and Wednesday

I expect numerous flight delays Tuesday and Wednesday to eastern destinations like Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., New York and Boston. Here’s a good site to keep track of delays in real time as the weather system moves into the northeast Tuesday.

(Image: flightstats.com)

Widespread warnings

More than a dozen eastern states have winter weather warnings in effect. Here’s the map from NOAA.

(Image: NOAA)

Bottom Line: If you are planning travel east Tuesday or Wednesday, expect delays and travel interruptions. If you are traveling by car, expect a major winter storm from eastern Ohio through Pennsylvania and upstate New York into the mountains of Virginia and West Virginia. The big cities along the coast will get mostly rain, but some heavy rainfall wind and fog will cause airport delays.