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Snow in Mid-Atlantic and Northeast could affect Thursday travel along I-95

A second storm could drop significant snow in the southern Mid-Atlantic late Friday into Saturday

A National Park Service worker shovels snow Jan. 17 near the Washington Monument. (Mike Theiler/Reuters)
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A quick-hitting burst of snow will slip through the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast on Thursday morning, coinciding with the peak of the morning commute along the Interstate 95 corridor and potentially impeding travel.

The entire zone from just north of Richmond to Boston could see snow around the same time.

Thursday’s system is the first of two that meteorologists are monitoring for potential East Coast impacts through the weekend.

The second, initially simulated to be much more potent, looked to occur Saturday as a developing low-pressure system worked up the East Coast just offshore. Models have since backed off on their projections, with the storm expected to be weaker and farther offshore. However, eastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia could see significant snowfall.

Burst of wet snow Thursday morning could slow commute in D.C. area

It has been an active start to 2022 for the Eastern Seaboard, which has seen at least three moderate to significant winter storms this month. Washington has picked up more snow this month than the city did in all of 2020 or 2021 combined. The nation’s capital is up to more than a foot for January, making it Washington’s snowiest month since January 2016.

Thursday morning

On Wednesday, a mid-level shortwave, or lobe of cold air, low pressure and spin, was diving east out of Manitoba and Ontario. That system, nestled within a dip in the jet stream, was helping instigate a surface low that will pass through southern Quebec. A cold front will trail along it and should be draped from roughly Cleveland to Lexington, Ky., to Memphis and Dallas by Wednesday evening.

Rain and a few downpours were set to materialize ahead of the sharpening front early Wednesday afternoon from Middle Tennessee southwest through Mississippi and Louisiana, where an isolated thunderstorm can’t be ruled out.

Crashing temperatures behind the front will flip rain over to mixed precipitation or snow east of the Mississippi River. Snow will start in northeast Pennsylvania and in south-central New York state around 4 a.m. Thursday, as well as in northeastern Kentucky and much of West Virginia.

By 8 or 9 a.m., briefly moderate snow could be coming down in Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston.

Snowfall totals will be light, with mainly a half-inch to an inch; a few spots may approach 2 or more inches. More problematic will be the timing of the snow, which could come down during the morning commute along a heavily traveled corridor of the northeastern Lower 48. Between slick roadways and lowered visibilities, anticipate a few issues.

There is a growing concern for icing and sleet developing in northeastern South Carolina and eastern North Carolina on Thursday night, mainly inland from the coast.

Saturday system

Meteorologists are also tracking a pair of upper-level disturbances — one over Southern California and the Baja Peninsula and the other over Alberta and Saskatchewan — that could “phase,” or overlap into a single disturbance. That will take aim at the southern Mid-Atlantic on Friday night.

It will help to intensify an offshore area of low pressure near or east of North Carolina’s Outer Banks that will shuffle northeast. Initially, the storm looked to track nearer to the coast, meaning several big-name cities would be closer to its axis of heaviest moisture. In recent model runs, however, there has been a marked offshore trend for the storm. That means dry air may win out in places such as Washington, where ― instead of what once looked to be a plowable snowfall — now nary a flake may fall.

The exception could come in southeast Virginia near Virginia Beach as well as eastern North Carolina. That’s where some models remain bullish on dropping 6 inches of snow or more.

It’s still too early to speculate on timing or totals given fluctuations in the system’s simulated course, but we’ll continue to monitor the latest developments of what, for some, could remain a high-impact system.