American (GFS) model shows snow plastering inland Newfoundland on Sunday night with a rain-snow mix near the coast. (Tropical Tidbits)

Remember the potent bomb cyclone that dumped 30 inches of snow in Newfoundland while lashing the city of St. John’s with 90 mph wind? It looks as though people there are in for another whopper Sunday and Monday from the same storm system that could dodge — or just barely fringe — the snow-starved U.S. East Coast.

Those of us stateside aren’t out of the woods yet, however. A tricky forecast is keeping meteorologists on their toes.

The storm in question hasn’t even materialized yet, with upper-level disturbances over Idaho and nearing the Gulf of Alaska.

Each of these disturbances is nestled within a dip in the jet stream, ensnared by strong winds making a brief jaunt south. The wild cards at this point come down to where these disturbances will combine, integral to determining how great of an impact the Eastern Seaboard or Canada will see.

As of now, it looks as though the two features will rendezvous near or just east of the Appalachians around Saturday. The meteorological meetup will be nonchalant at first but will become a bit more interesting when the synergistic storminess spins up a potent zone of low pressure offshore east of the coastal Carolinas.


An animation showing two disturbances, one over the Upper Midwest and the other over the Gulf Coast, “phasing.” That combination of their energies will develop into a powerful storm system east of the Mid-Atlantic. (Tropical Tidbits)

It’s a recipe ripe for a gnarly storm, the southern piece of energy bringing moisture while its northerly counterpart supplies the needed fuel and cold to generate an intensifying zone of low pressure.

As of now, the storm looks to ride northeast on Sunday, sparing the United States substantial impacts as it intensifies at the rate of a meteorological “bomb cyclone.” Eventually, it could arrive in Newfoundland or the Canadian Maritimes late Sunday into Monday, bringing with it strong winds, heavy snow and potential blizzard conditions just west of where it strikes.

People in Newfoundland, beleaguered by snow after experiencing snowiest day on record in St. John’s less than two weeks ago, spent days digging out of drifts as much as 12 feet high. They’re ready for another possible storm, but that doesn’t mean they’re happy about it.

“The fact that another storm is knocking on our doorstep doesn’t come as a surprise,” wrote Eddie Sheerr in a Twitter message. Sheerr is the chief meteorologist at NTV News in Newfoundland.

“There is definitely concern that more snow will be a challenge to remove in St. John’s, [but] snow is always a challenge to remove in the capital city of the province.”

Sheerr does note that enormous uncertainty in the forecast prevents the pinning down of more specific forecast impacts for at least several more days.

Initial storm tracks place the system’s center west of the Avalon Peninsula, which would keep St. John’s on the warmer side of the storm, bringing primarily a mix of rain and snow mix and strong winds. Even if that’s the case, Sheerr said he’ll be watching for potential coastal flooding as strong winds sweeping north pile water against the coast.

The storm, while foreshadowed to some extent by models for close to a week, has been a finicky one. In other words, we know that a storm is likely, but where it winds up going is not certain.


Models are inconsistent as to where the “phasing” of the subtropical jet and polar jet disturbances will occur. This animation shows the past 10 GFS model runs, indicating high uncertainty with the location of the fledgling disturbance off the East Coast jumping around wildly run to run. Colors indicate vorticity, a meteorological figure that denotes spin in the atmosphere. (Tropical Tidbits)

It’s unlikely to significantly impact the U.S. East Coast beyond some rain in the southern Mid-Atlantic on Friday night into early Saturday. But if it does meander west of the majority of model projections, areas farther north could see some rain. Snow would be unlikely given the general lack of cold air feeding into the storm over the Lower 48.


The American (GFS) model shows rain in the southern Mid-Atlantic from a developing coastal storm Saturday morning. Most models project the storm will head northeast, sparing areas farther north from significant impacts along the U.S. East Coast. (Tropical Tidbits)

That’s been a common theme this winter for many in the Mid-Atlantic, starved of snowfall while anomalously warm temperatures dominated. Philadelphia has only seen about 0.3 inches of snow all season at a time of year when it would typically be closing in on 10 inches.

Baltimore, which should be on par with Philadelphia, stands at 1.8 inches. Washington has only seen 0.6 inches.

Only a few folks in the Northeast are running above average. Portland, Maine, is up to 3½ feet, while Hartford, Conn., has picked up a healthy 25.3 inches.

Otherwise, if you’re looking for snow, try heading up to Newfoundland. Odds are Sheerr and the folks up there can spare a little extra.