Northeast Weekend System Not a Major Snowstorm, But May Bring the First Decent Snow in Over a Month to New York, Philadelphia

Jonathan Erdman
Published: February 16, 2018

Snow will return to the Northeast this weekend, including the Interstate 95 corridor, where some areas haven't seen a decent blanket of snow in over a month and are currently experiencing a February thaw.

Yes, despite temperatures late this week in the 50s or 60s, winter reality will return at least briefly this weekend in the Northeast.

The setup for snow this Presidents Day weekend in the Northeast.

A cold front is currently moving through the East, bringing a brief end to this recent string of warmth.

Meanwhile, a disturbance in the jet stream will produce a wave of low pressure along that frontal boundary, moving from the into the East Saturday, then off the Eastern Seaboard Saturday night into Sunday.

(MORE: Winter Storm Central)

Fortunately, there isn't any blocking in the upper atmosphere over the northern Atlantic Ocean that would otherwise slow this system down and allow the offshore low to deepen into a bigger storm.

However, that wave of low pressure will be able to wrap some moisture into the cold air just imported into the central and eastern U.S.

There are some lingering uncertainties in the placement and amount of snow with this system.

However, this will be a quick round of wintry precipitation this weekend, and, thus, not a major snowstorm by any stretch, despite mid-February's notorious reputation.

(MORE: Presidents Day Weekend Has Produced Big Storms in the Past)

The National Weather Service has issued winter storm watches in areas where there is the greatest chance for at least 6 inches of snow. This includes areas of southern New England and Long Island into northern New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania.

Winter weather advisories are in effect for portions of southern Pennsylvania where less snow is expected, but travel could still be difficult. Winter weather advisories are also in effect for parts of the Shenandoah Valley due expected icing that could make roads slick. 


Winter Alerts

Forecast Timing

In a few areas, this could lead to slick bridges, overpasses and untreated roads by Saturday morning. 

(MAPS: 7-Day U.S. Forecast Snow/Rain)

Saturday, some wet snow is expected to develop in parts of the mid-Atlantic states by late afternoon, potentially including parts of the Interstate 95 corridor, including the Washington D.C. and Baltimore metro areas. Precipitation may start as rain before changing to snow.

Pockets of freezing rain may stubbornly hold in place in parts of the Shenandoah Valley and Appalachian foothills of Virginia and West Virginia, as well as parts of the Ozarks early in the day.


Saturday's Forecast

Saturday night, snow should spread through much of the rest of the Northeast, including New England.

Unlike the past few systems, there will likely be snow in most areas near the coast, but the line separating mainly rain from mainly snow is still uncertain, dependent on the exact track of the wave of low pressure. 

Parts of southern New Jersey, the Delmarva Peninsula and areas south of Washington D.C. may see more rain than snow Saturday night.

Some freezing rain may persist for a time Saturday night in the Shenandoah Valley.


Saturday Night's Forecast

Any lingering snow Sunday morning should exit coastal New England quickly.

Snowfall Potential

As mentioned earlier, this will be a quick-moving system, which will limit snowfall totals.

Furthermore, given recent warmth, some initial snowfall may melt on pavement, accumulating in grassy areas first.

In general, most of the Interstate 95 corridor should see just a few inches of snow. Some more moderate totals approaching 6 inches are possible in parts of southern New England and Long Island.

Totals in the Baltimore-Washington corridor are a tad uncertain, depending again on where the rain/snow line sets up, but again are expected to be light.

Little accumulation is expected from western Pennsylvania to western and upstate New York and northern New England, a change from recent systems.

(MORE: Snow Ratios: An Important Role in Snowfall Forecasting)

Ice accumulations in the Shenandoah Valley and adjacent foothills, from northwestern Maryland and western Virginia into eastern West Virginia, may be enough to not only coat bridges and overpasses, but also untreated roads. Isolated power outages and damage to tree limbs are possible in a few areas.

In the Ozarks, any ice accumulations early Saturday should only be a hazard to bridges, overpasses and untreated roads. Warming temperatures later in the day should allow any slick spots to improve quickly.

Expect some slippery travel from Saturday afternoon and evening into Sunday morning in the Northeast. With temperatures warming quickly Sunday, any lingering slush on roads should melt quickly.


Snowfall Forecast Through Sunday

It's Been Awhile

Snow falls over Times Square, Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018, in New York City during Winter Storm Grayson.
(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Since Winter Storm Grayson hammered the Northeast coast with heavy snow just after Near Year's Day, it's been largely a snowless six-week stretch for parts of the Interstate 95 corridor.

New York's Central Park has only picked up 1.9 inches of snow since Jan. 4, but still remains above its average season snowfall-to-date, tallying 19.4 inches so far this season.

Similarly, Philadelphia has only managed 0.7 inches of snow since Jan. 4, spread among three separate days.

Farther south along the Interstate 95 corridor, there's been little snow to speak of all season.

Baltimore's heaviest snow event this season so far was a mere 2.8 inches on Dec. 9 during Winter Storm Benji.

Reagan National Airport in Washington D.C. has only tallied 3.1 inches of snow all season through Feb. 13.

While it's not nearly a record-least snowy season-to-date there (last season through Feb. 13 had only 1.4 inches), it has only picked up 27 percent of its average snowfall-to-date. 

Check back with us at weather.com for updates in the days ahead.


The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

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