As a very wet 2018 drifts into its final weeks, the storm train keeps rolling through the eastern United States. The cause is an energetic jet stream that is racing across the Lower 48, ultimately meeting up with moisture in the East to cause widespread storminess.
Although the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast are experiencing a mild and relatively sun-filled Wednesday, several chances of more rain are right around the corner and will push a number of locations closer to their wettest years ever.
In the Mid-Atlantic, a few showers are possible as soon as Wednesday night, but the main storm systems of interest are expected to pass by Friday and early next week. That early-week event even has the potential to be a winterlike nor’easter.
On Friday, we will see another storm not unlike the ones we saw on Election Day and last Friday. Those events brought rain and severe weather to the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast. Whether an event like this packs a major punch is often heavily dictated by instability. This time, we expect little to none. That should limit the threat of severe thunderstorms.
Nonetheless, more rain, heavy at times, is likely through the day and perhaps into the night. It could add up to another inch or two in many spots as it traverses from the South and through the Mid-Atlantic, on to New England. It’s a little too soon to get into specifics, but some flash flooding can’t be ruled out if it rains as heavily as some models show it might.
Even in a stormy pattern, the Northeast has had a recent knack for tranquil, dry weekends in between the deluges. That’s the case this time as well, as long as you don’t mind cool weather.
Skies are clearing from southwest to northeast on Saturday, with blustery conditions. After a cold Saturday night — Washington may even post its first freeze — Sunday is sunny across the region, but it remains rather chilly with widespread highs only in the 30s in New England and the 40s across the Mid-Atlantic.
The cold air mass this weekend helps set the stage for the next storm.
By Monday, the storm will take shape somewhere between the northern Gulf of Mexico and the southern United States, before heading northeast as it strengthens and matures. There are a range of possible storm tracks still on the table with this system, from just inland near the Interstate 95 corridor, to right up the coast, to farther offshore. The recent pattern may argue for the somewhat inland option, but models have presented a coastal storm scenario as well.
This storm is likely to bring rain and perhaps some severe weather to the South on Monday before precipitation spreads up the East Coast on Monday night and through Tuesday.
Although wet snowflakes aren’t impossible as precipitation begins in lower elevations if the cold air lingers enough Monday night, any meaningful snowfall will probably be confined to the mountains of New England and perhaps the highest elevations of the Mid-Atlantic. The snow-belt areas around the Great Lakes are also likely to get snow this weekend into next week at times, as a result of punches of cold air moving over the relatively warm lake waters.
Any rain that falls over the next week will move a number of places in the Mid-Atlantic closer to their wettest years in recorded history.
Washington has logged 55.9 inches in 2018, which ranks as the sixth-wettest year, with 53 days still to go. Its wettest year on record is 61.33 inches in 1889.
Baltimore is even closer to notching its wettest year. It has received 60.06 inches this year and is on the cusp of reaching the top mark of 62.66 from 2003.
It’s a similar story farther north, where Pennsylvania has also been inundated. Williamsport’s rainfall tally currently ranks third-wettest all-time. Harrisburg’s total ranks fourth.
Very wet conditions have also occurred to the south, where the annual rainfall total in Lynchburg, Va., ranks ninth-wettest on record.
Although there are some hints of a drier pattern as we move into the second half of November, it’s a little far out to have much confidence. Wet patterns like this tend to be difficult to displace quickly.