Say it ain't snow!, among other cheesy local news headlines. It's probably going to snow in New York City and around Washington D.C. tonight. It won't be much, but it'll be enough to make people act like fools.
Why is this happening? Why us?
There are two weather systems that will help produce snow: a trough moving into the Appalachians, and a weak low pressure developing about a hundred miles off the Northeast coast. As usual, the closer you get to the coast, the higher above freezing temperatures will be, so precipitation will likely begin as rain in coastal areas (New York and Boston, most likely) before the freezing line inches close enough to change it over to snow.
Precipitation developing ahead of the trough will produce light rain and snow from the mountains of Virginia to New York. This will serve as the best chance for snow around the D.C. area—areas north and west of town are the most likely areas to see flakes, of course. Temperatures close to town won't be warm enough for anything more than a cold rain, but stranger things have happened.
The heaviest snow will occur as a result of a developing low pressure system that will travel up the East Coast tonight. Models are predicting a band of snow to develop along the coastal areas of the Northeast, with areas from Connecticut to coastal Maine potentially seeing a few inches on the ground by tomorrow morning.
How much snow will fall?
Washington D.C. Area:
Any snow that falls in the D.C. area will be conversational in nature—it'll snow, but it won't accumulate. People will panic anyway.
New York City:
The National Weather Service predicts a dusting of snow at best in the New York City area—between 1 AM and 7 AM, the office in Islip predicts 0.2" of snow in the city proper. Any accumulation could make sidewalks and stairs slick, but it's relatively nothing. Again, people will panic anyway.
The best chance for accumulating snow in NWS New York's area of responsibility is up in Connecticut, where inland areas could see more than an inch of snow by daybreak.
Boston's NWS office is weird and doesn't provide an accumulation map, so here is a map showing the odds of more than 1 inch of snow. Northeastern Connecticut and south-central Massachusetts stands the best chance of seeing accumulating snow. Taunton and Worcester are currently forecast to see 2 inches of snow tomorrow. Boston could see an inch after the rain changes to snow.
Maine and New Hampshire:
An accumulation of one to two inches is possible across inland areas. Just as flurries are conversational in D.C., a few inches of snow in this part of the country is nothing more than small talk.
This is unprecedented!
No it's not. Central Park has recorded a trace of snow during the month of November 87 out of the last 113 years that the station has kept records. Washington's Dulles Airport has recorded a trace of snow in November 32 out of the past 52 years. Even Washington's Reagan Airport—that warm spot on the Potomac—has seen a trace of snow 47 out of the past 73 years during the month of November.
It's not at all unusual for it to get this cold this early, nor is it unprecedented to see snow this early in the year. It's like the advent of social media made us forget that anything Pre-Facebook ever existed.
It's (probably) going to snow. It won't be much. If people can't handle this, I pity them come December and January.
*A trace of snow ("T") is snow that falls but melts when it hits the ground.
[Images: AP / WeatherBELL / NWS]