Weeks ago, we discussed how the weather pattern through mid-March was very favorable for significant snowstorms in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. The Northeast has seen back-to-back blockbusters. Could the Mid-Atlantic’s turn be next?
From model run to model run, suspense is building as the possibility of a major late winter storm in the Mid-Atlantic waxes and wanes. Over the past day, models have taken a subtle shift toward a stormier outcome, but there are holdouts — those that insist that the storm will pass harmlessly to the south.
The take-home point, for the moment, is the following: A high-impact storm capable of producing large amounts of snow, rain and wind, as well as coastal flooding, is a realistic scenario for Sunday and Monday. However, there is still the chance the storm will miss.
Assuming the storm materializes, this is most likely to be one in which the heaviest snow falls north and west of Washington and Baltimore. March storms are like that. Cold air is in limited supply, so snow piles up more readily in locations with a little more latitude and elevation. But meaningful snowfall near and along the Interstate 95 corridor is still possible. Mid-March has produced plenty of storms in the past with significant snowfall in this zone.
It probably won’t be until Thursday or Friday that we can start dissecting the details of any storm, like how much snow and rain is possible, where the rain-snow line will set up, when precipitation will start and stop, and so forth.
“Washington needs a near-perfect storm track for grabbing a significant snowstorm at this time of year,” said Wes Junker, Capital Weather Gang’s winter weather expert. “The good news for snow lovers is that some models are forecasting such a track. The good news for snow haters is that there still are models that keep the storm suppressed.”
Here is what the model landscape looks like.
The American (GFS) model shows a crushing snowstorm for areas just north and west of Washington and Baltimore. Even Washington and Baltimore would see significant snow, but some of it would melt due to temperatures slightly above freezing.
The UKMet model presents a massive nor’easter that plasters much of the East Coast with rain and snow. Washington and Baltimore would most likely see precipitation alternate between heavy snow, sleet and rain. Colder areas toward the Interstate 81 corridor would see a huge snowstorm.
The European model slides the storm far enough south that it barely grazes the D.C. area. However, its latest simulation shifted the storm track north compared to the previous one. It would only take a small northward adjustment for the model to simulate a more significant storm for the region.
In addition, it’s worth noting that the European modeling system has 50 alternative simulations in addition to the primary one. While the primary one shows a miss, almost half of the other simulations show a significant storm for our region. About a third show significant snowfall.
The Canadian model is in the same boat as the (primary) European model, forecasting a glancing blow from the storm. But it’s a close call.
We’ll have another update tomorrow. You’ll want to stay tuned for it.