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National Weather at 3pm February 26 2005


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Calm Before the Storm

3:00 P.M. ET 2/26/2005


Jonathan Erdman, Sr. Meteorologist, The Weather Channel




Florida’s sunshine will be of the “liquid” variety to round out the latter half of the weekend. This wet outlook is an abrupt change for Floridians. While January and February are typically the two driest months of the year in the Sunshine State, it has been exceptionally dry. February rainfall amounts up until Friday were generally a scant .10” or less from Orlando to Tampa to Miami. In fact, parts of Florida haven’t seen an inch of rain in any one day since mid-January, or in the case of Tampa/St. Pete., since Christmas Day. Low pressure will set sail across the Gulf of Mexico tonight into Sunday, spreading rain from Texas to the Florida Peninsula and much of the Southeast. Some thunderstorms embedded in the overall rain shield may rumble across coastal Louisiana tonight into early Sunday. Sunday, thunderstorms will be most numerous across northern and central Florida. A few of these storms may turn severe Sunday afternoon and evening. A steady, chilly rain, with a few rumbles of thunder will be the rule in the Tennessee Valley and Carolinas. As low pressure intensifies over the Northeast Monday, a strong cold front will sweep colder air into the Southeast. Monday’s highs will struggle into the 40s in Nashville, and try to top 50 in Atlanta, accompanied by a stiff northwest wind. Snow could fall in the Smoky Mountains and Cumberland Plateau to round out the month of February.



A rather calm, but cold weekend seemingly doesn’t foretell a significant snowstorm, but that’s exactly what’s in the cards for the Northeast. Cold high pressure will slowly build into the interior Northeast tonight. With the exception of some stubborn lake-effect snow in the lee of Lake Ontario, most areas should experience clearing skies tonight, allowing the mercury to plunge. Lows should dip into the low-mid 20s from the Nation’s Capital to the “Big Apple”, while teens can be expected in Boston, mainly inside Loop 128. Much colder lows can be expected in the interior, where single digits and 10s will be the rule. The coldest hamlets of northern New England will likely dip below zero. While Sunday shapes up to be a dry, but cold day, more menacing weather sets its sights on Monday. A storm system will sweep northward from the Southeast U.S., riding up the Northeast coast Monday into early Tuesday. While the exact path of the low pressure system will be critical to the amount of snow from the I-95 corridor to the immediate coast, precipitation should begin in all locations as snow Monday, but could quickly change to rain in this corridor as Monday wears on. How quickly that changeover occurs will dictate how much snow the Boston-Washington corridor picks up from this storm. Two things are more certain at this time. First, significant snow looks like a good bet from the Appalachians to Upstate New York and northern New England. Snowfall measured in feet, not inches, may be the rule in these locations. Strong winds late Monday into Tuesday could produce areas of blowing snow and reduced visibilities in the Appalachians. Secondly, strong easterly winds to the north of the advancing coastal low may produce some areas of coastal flooding Monday into early Tuesday from the Delmarva to southern New England. Ol’ Man Winter will keep his stubborn grip on the region through next week, with temperatures below seasonal averages for the first week of March.



Mother Nature is about to deliver a wintry reality check to much of the region this weekend, leading into the first day of March. A cold front poised in southern Canada will nosedive into the Upper Midwest tonight, opening the cold Canadian trap door. Accompanying this front, a band of accumulating snow, possibly over 6 inches in the extreme, is expected to slide across northern Minnesota, northern Wisconsin, and the U.P. of Peninsula through Sunday. Winter storm watches have been hoisted from the Arrowhead of Minnesota to northeast Wisconsin and the southern U.P. of Michigan. To the south, a band of snow, and even some sleet, may line up along the cold front sweeping southward through southern Minnesota and Wisconsin tonight and Sunday. Folks in the Twin Cities may have slick roads from some sleet, light freezing rain, and light snow beginning tonight into Sunday, but snowfall accumulations should remain less than one inch. As low pressure wraps up in the Great Lakes Monday, the cold front will drive southward into the Central Plains and Ohio Valley. With cold air arriving ahead of the intensifying storm system, accumulating snow may continue from the Ohio Valley into Michigan and northern Wisconsin, enhanced by a flow of air over still unfrozen parcels of the Great Lakes. Blizzard conditions may develop, at times, late Monday into Tuesday over Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, northern Lower Michigan, and northern Wisconsin. Highs Monday won’t get out of the 30s from the Ohio Valley to the Northern Plains.



While Saturday’s weather resembles a pattern stuck over the region the past few days, subtle changes are on the way that will temporarily reverse a trend. In the meantime, a pesky low swirling over the Desert Southwest will, in some ways, produce a menagerie of thunderstorms similar to what you might witness in summer from California to the Four Corners region. While the tremendous soaking rains have left Southern California, these pesky hit-or-miss thundershowers have managed to dump small hail on some parts of the Southland the past few days, and may do so again through the evening. In fact, if night skiing is in your plans in the mountains of Colorado and New Mexico, don’t be surprised by an occasional flash of lightning. The other component of the stagnant western weather has been the dry, warm Pacific Northwest and northern Rockies. It’s been 2 weeks since rain has fallen in Seattle, notable since this is the heart of the rainy season there. The changes include a procession of 3 weak frontal systems headed for northern California, Oregon and Washington State beginning early Sunday through Tuesday, breaking the Pacific Northwest dry streak, and bringing at least some snow to struggling Washington ski resorts. The stubborn Southwest low will slide out of the Four Corners into Texas and Oklahoma Sunday, bringing an end to the California/Four Corners afternoon & evening thunderstorms of the past few days. Fortunately for rain-weary Southern California, this pattern reversal looks to bring dry weather through much of next week.

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