It might as well be spring in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic for how warm it is Thursday and for how little snow the regions have seen this winter. The air is downright balmy from Virginia to Massachusetts, and you can almost smell the crocuses.
But a significant change is coming — literally overnight on Friday. A big cold front will sweep through, pulling temperatures down to the 20s and teens Friday night.
- D.C. high temperature on Thursday: 70 degrees; low temperature Friday night: 28 degrees
- Philadelphia high temperature Thursday: 69 degrees; low temperature Friday night: 25 degrees
- Morristown, N.J., high temperature Thursday: 58 degrees; low temperature Friday night: 18 degrees
- Worcester, Mass., high temperature Thursday: 54 degrees; low temperature Friday night: 17 degrees
The same cold front will spawn wintry weather of another type: snow and freezing rain. When the cold front reaches the warm air over the Southeast and Gulf Stream, a separate area of low pressure will develop and evolve into a coastal storm. That storm will hit the East Coast, from Virginia to at least Boston.
Freezing rain could cause problems on the roads along Interstate 81 from Roanoke, to Hagerstown, Md., starting Saturday morning. A tenth of an inch of ice accumulation, maybe even more, is possible, with the highest risk focusing south toward Roanoke. In addition to creating dangerous road conditions, freezing rain could coat branches in ice, which would bring down power lines and lead to at least isolated power outages.
Farther north, snow will be the main hazard west of Interstate 95. While exact amounts are still uncertain, anywhere from a dusting to six inches of snow is possible from the D.C. metro area to Bangor, Maine.
In the D.C. region, where rain will begin to change to snow, the forecast is particularly uncertain. Areas south of and around the Beltway could see mixed precipitation Saturday night, while areas north of the Beltway and toward Baltimore could get several inches of snow, depending on temperatures and where the storm ultimately tracks.
Major cities along I-95 are also in the critical rain-snow line. Philadelphia could see little to no snow at all, while to the west, higher elevations could see as much as six inches. New York City looks as if it will stay warm enough to prevent significant snow totals, but the Catskills may be looking at 3 to 6 inches.
The storm will wrap up in Boston early Sunday morning after dropping several inches of snow.
Just as fast as this storm blows through, it will warm up again to springlike temperatures. Early next week, highs are going to be in the 60s well into New England.