A pedestrian uses an umbrella while walking on a snow covered street in Washington, D.C., U.S. (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

If Storm Tracks Right, New York Could Get Snow by Weekend

(Bloomberg) -- A storm that’s swinging into southern California could end up blanketing New York and the rest of the Northeast this coming weekend, ending Boston’s snow drought, tying up traffic and halting air travel.

That’s if everything comes together in just the right way, said Rob Carolan, owner of Hometown Forecast Services in Nashua, New Hampshire. Three major weather models are calling for a storm over the weekend. The big question is whether it will be the white stuff or the wet stuff.

“If this thing comes together, it could affect the whole East Coast,” said Carolan, who provides forecasts for Bloomberg Radio. “It could be a foot and a half of snow, it could be rain.”

While Washington and other parts of the mid-Atlantic broke snowfall records Sunday, and northern New England has been pummeled by storms this winter, Boston and New York haven’t had much. Washington got 8.3 inches (21 centimeters) Sunday, a record for the date.

If Storm Tracks Right, New York Could Get Snow by Weekend

New York hasn’t had a significant storm since getting 6.4 inches Nov. 15, according to the National Weather Service. Boston’s had less than a quarter inch of snow so far, putting it almost 16 inches below normal. That may be about to change.

“Boston and New York could get caught up,” Carolan said.

Forecast Uncertainty

The problem is the storm is still more than five days away and how much snow it produces in New York and the other cities along the Interstate-95 corridor will depend on exactly how it moves through the eastern U.S., said Marc Chenard, senior branch forecaster at the U.S. Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

“I would say every day we get closer, we will know a little more,” Chenard said. “By Wednesday into Thursday we should get a better idea of what the treat is for the cities.”

If the storm moves inland then the cities will get mainly rain. If it passes to their south, then there could be heavier snow.

The best chance for all snow is north and west of Interstate 95, said Dave Dombek, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania. This means that New York could get some rain or sleet mixed in.

“It is hard to imagine in New York City that it will be all snow,’’ Dombek said. “It is going to be a pretty significant storm, it is going to be a pretty moist storm, you could even say juicy.’’

After the storm passes the eastern U.S. will likely have it coldest days of the winter so far, Dombek said.

The largest storms typically come when the two branches of the jet stream come together, Carolan said. One branch brings arctic cold south and the other brings moist tropical air north and they collide over the eastern U.S. Weather models from Europe, Canada and the U.S. all agree that’s what’s going to happen. They just don’t agree on whether it will be snow or rain.

“Sooner or later, it’s January, it’s cold,” Carolan said. “We’re going to get some things to come together.”

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