Winter Storm to Hammer Midwest , Including Chicago, This Weekend, Then Become a Nor’easter Early Next Week

Published in 29 January, 2021

At a Glance

  • The latest in a parade of storms will take shape over the Midwest this weekend.

  • This will eventually become a Northeast snowstorm beginning Sunday.

  • Strong winds and coastal flooding are also possible in the Northeast.

A snowstorm will hammer parts of the Midwest this weekend, including Chicago, then morph into a nor’easter early next week that could bring heavy snow to Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

In the heart of winter, the weather pattern has become quite active.

Winter Storm Nathaniel dumped heavy snow in parts of the Midwest and light to moderate snow in the Northeast this week.

The next system in this parade is currently hammering parts of the West and will move into the Plains and Midwest this weekend. This one will have a second chapter as a significant snowstorm in the Northeast Sunday through Tuesday.

This system has been named Winter Storm Orlena by The Weather Channel.

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Let’s lay out the forecast timing, then the current snowfall forecasts.

Forecast Timing

Saturday

This system will arrive in the Plains and upper Midwest Saturday and will meet up with cold air to produce snow from the eastern Dakotas southeastward into Indiana and southwestern Ohio.

Saturday night, snow, sleet or freezing rain will spread into the Appalachians and adjacent piedmont as far south as southern Virginia and northern and western North Carolina. Snow will continue in the aforementioned parts of the Midwest Saturday night.

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Saturday’s Forecast

(The green shadings depict where rain is expected. Areas that are shaded blue are expected to see snow. Purple-shaded locations may see either rain or snow. Areas in pink are expected to see sleet or freezing rain (ice).)

Sunday

Snow will continue Sunday from the southern Great Lakes into the Mid-Atlantic States.

There remains some uncertainty regarding where the snow/ice/rain lines will setup Sunday east of the Appalachians, so some areas with snow in the forecast may see some sleet or freezing rain mix in, at times.

Snow, sleet or freezing rain could extend as far south as northern North Carolina.

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Sunday night, snow may creep north in the Mid-Atlantic states toward the New York City Tri-state. Some lingering dry air may keep southern New England dry, for the time being.

Snow will persist Sunday night in the Ohio Valley, extending as far south as Kentucky, Tennessee, and

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Sunday’s Forecast

(The green shadings depict where rain is expected. Areas that are shaded blue are expected to see snow. Purple-shaded locations may see either rain or snow. Areas in pink are expected to see sleet or freezing rain (ice).)

Monday

Computer forecast models predict a secondary area of low pressure will form near or off the Northeast coast Monday.

However, the exact track of this low is crucial to determine such details as how far inland snow falls, where the heaviest snow falls, and whether rain occurs at the coast.

The aforementioned dry air may also be in place over at least part of the interior Northeast.

(MORE: Why Northeast Snowstorms Can Be Difficult to Forecast)

For now, snow is most possible Monday from southern New England to the Mid-Atlantic states. Lingering snow is expected in parts of the Ohio Valley and the Appalachians.

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Monday’s Forecast

(The green shadings depict where rain is expected. Areas that are shaded blue are expected to see snow. Purple-shaded locations may see either rain or snow. Areas in pink are expected to see sleet or freezing rain (ice).)

The best chance of snow continuing into Groundhog Day will be in New England.

It remains uncertain if snow will persist at least part of the day, or will have largely ended farther south, although some lingering snow showers and areas of lake-enhanced snow can’t be ruled out in the Ohio Valley and Appalachians.

Snow could linger into Tuesday night or even Wednesday in parts of New England.

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Tuesday’s Forecast

(The green shadings depict where rain is expected. Areas that are shaded blue are expected to see snow. Purple-shaded locations may see either rain or snow. Areas in pink are expected to see sleet or freezing rain (ice).)

How Much Snow?

Midwest

At least 6 inches of snow is most probable in a swath from eastern Iowa, southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois into Indiana, extreme southern Michigan and Ohio.

This includes the Chicagoland and Milwaukee metro areas, where winds off Lake Michigan may enhance the snowfall.

A few locations in this Iowa to Ohio zone could measure up to a foot of snow.

Some blowing and drifting snow is possible as winds increase Saturday night into Sunday, particularly in rural areas and near the shores of the Great Lakes.

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Northeast

As we alluded to earlier, how much snow falls and where it falls depends on the exact track of the low near or off the East Coast and how strong it becomes.

The chances of a significant Northeast snowstorm are increasing, but that’s not a guarantee, and it doesn’t mean the entire Northeast will see heavy snow.

(MORE: 6 Things You Should Know About Your Snow Forecast)

There could be a sharp gradient between little snow and heavier snow along the northern edge of this storm, which makes snowfall forecasts in northern Pennsylvania, western, central and upstate New York very uncertain.

Furthermore, a low track closer to the coast could mean more rain and less snow near the Northeast coast and possibly parts of the Interstate 95 Urban corridor, at least for a time.

For now, moderate to heavy snowfall is possible in purple areas on the map below.

However, this event is still several days away so snowfall forecasts will change in the days ahead as the forecast details such as the track, timing and strength of this system become clearer.

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Snow Outlook

(While it is too far out in time to specify exact forecast snowfall totals, areas in the purple and pink contours have the highest chance at heavy snowfall.)

Snow won’t be the only impact.

Strong winds are likely to develop along the coast from the Delmarva Peninsula to coastal New England Monday and could last along the New England coast through Tuesday night or early Wednesday.

These winds could lead to power outages and possibly some tree damage, particularly if in combination with heavy snow.

Also, given the storm’s slow movement and persistent onshore winds, coastal flooding may occur from the Delmarva Peninsula to New England, possibly over several high tide cycles.

Check weather.com for updates to this forecast.

 

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