As we make our way into the sixth weekend of the year, the weather is getting pretty active on either end of the United States. The west is basking in some much-needed rain, while the northeast is getting ready for yet another snowstorm this weekend, all while residents of Denver are wearing shorts.
We'll start with the threat of snow in the Northeast this weekend. As I covered in detail yesterday, a storm system will make its way across the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes this weekend, producing a decent blanket of snow in its wake. The system will reach the Atlantic Ocean by Sunday evening, transitioning into a nor'easter just in time to produce some pretty heavy snows over areas that have already seen above-average snow this season.
The above snowfall map, courtesy of the awesome Enhanced Data Display, shows predicted snowfall totals through 7:00 PM EST on Sunday as issued by individual National Weather Service forecast offices across the region. The highest totals will fall between Oswego and Watertown, New York, as a result of lake effect snow off of Lake Ontario tonight in addition to the system's snowfall on Sunday and Monday.
Winter storm watches are in effect from Buffalo to Boston in anticipation of the storm. The watch in the Boston area advises that "eight or more inches [of snow] are possible within a 24-hour period" through Monday evening, which is great news for the three people in Boston who still enjoy winter.
Whether or not New York City will see any measurable snow is up in the air at this point. The city will be south of the rain/snow line for a majority of the event, keeping precipitation mostly rain or even an icy mix at times, but some snow could fall as the storm pulls away and cold air filters in from the north. The current forecast from the NWS shows a dusting of snow at most, though this could change if the storm shifts farther south than models are currently showing. Either way, it's not looking like a disruptive snow event for the Big Apple.
It's raining on the West Coast! Today is the first day that San Francisco International Airport has recorded rain since December 24, 2014. Many areas along the immediate coast and at higher elevations from central California north through British Columbia will see several inches of rain from this glorious influx of moisture from the tropics, which is great news and will help to refill some of the dwindling reservoirs in the region.
The bad news is that heavy rain falling on parched ground is creating some concern about flash floods. Flooding is already occurring across parts of the three western states, with some pretty harrowing pictures coming from news helicopters around Seattle.
Another pic of flooding from Brinnon pic.twitter.com/rlJP1tdTsu— Scott Sistek (@ScottSKOMO) February 6, 2015
The above picture shows floodwaters in Brinnon, Washington, engulfing homes and cars as water falls faster than sewers, waterways, and the ground can handle.
The Weather Prediction Center shows the potential for five to seven inches of rain along coastal areas that get caught under the heaviest bands of rain. The heavy precipitation will translate into snow for the highest mountain peaks from California to Washington, with some areas expecting several feet of snow by the end of the storm.
The rain should start to wane (rhyme unintended) from south to north on Monday afternoon through early Tuesday morning.
The precipitation is good news, but it's just not good enough. While this rain will serve as some payment towards the region's serious water deficit, we still need a whole hell of a lot more rain than we're seeing in order to come close to breaking the drought. NOAA estimates that most of California needs to see more twenty inches of rain over the next six months in order to break its drought—the longer it doesn't rain, the more rain they need to return to normal.
It's pretty darn warm in the central United States today. It's not exactly "turn on your A/C" levels of warm, but it's abnormally nice. Record-breaking nice. The comfortable temperatures are the result of a large ridge in the jet stream dominating the western half of the country; ridges are typically conducive to calm, warm weather.
Denver is set to smash its daily high temperature record for the date, with readings at Denver International Airport already seven degrees above today's record high of 62°F set back in 2009. Admittedly, KDEN's observation records only stretch back to March 1995, but that doesn't have much of an impact on the fact that this warmth is breaking some daily maximum records. As of noon Mountain Time, CoolWx.com reports that dozens of locations across the western United States have broken daily record highs, with more records likely to fall as the heat of the day sets in.
It's a far cry from where we were just a couple of days ago, when a cold front sped through the region and drove temperatures down below freezing for most. The front had such a strong temperature gradient on it that a short drive across western Texas would have exposed you to temperatures in the 30s near Lubbock and readings near 80 around Midland.
It's another fun weekend in February. If you're keeping count, there are 42 days left until spring...not that spring is a guarantee that things will change, of course.
[Images: AP, NWS, Intellicast, WPC, NCDC, coolwx.com, author]