AccuWeather forecasters expect the coldest air of the season to arrive this week in the Midwest and Northeast, and a little snow could even come with it. The taste of winterlike cold will occur following a brief, and perhaps welcome, warmup across parts of the East.
Temperatures in recent days have been on the chilly side, especially in the Northeast, which was still dealing with the aftereffects of Hurricane Ian at the start of the week in some areas. New York City has barely made it above 60 F to start the month when average high temperatures in early October there are near 70 degrees. On Tuesday, the high was only in the lower 50s in the Big Apple.
A couple of warmer days are in store before the next cold wave arrives. A coastal nor'easter may keep areas from southern New England to eastern Maryland on the cooler side through the middle of the week, but temperatures will go up a bit where the sun is out and in the wake of the storm. High temperatures in the 70s were apparent across the Midwest on Tuesday, with a high of 76 in Chicago and a high of 75 in St. Louis, Missouri. More of the same is in store across the Midwest on Wednesday. The warmer air should finally reach the coastal Northeast on Thursday.
By Wednesday, the thermometer may read a few degrees higher in the Midwest with highs expected to reach the low 80s in a few cities such as St. Louis and Evansville, Indiana. High temperatures will shift from the 50s at the start of the week in Philadelphia to near 60 Wednesday and the 70s Thursday. A similar forecast is in store for Washington, D.C., and New York City.
In the Midwest, for those looking to enjoy the calm conditions outdoors, the middle of the week may be some of the best days to do so for some time because an advancing cold front will bring a quick change and much colder weather by Thursday. The best bet for outdoor plans along the Interstate 95 corridor in the Northeast will be from Thursday to Friday, forecasters say.
"As a strong cold front moves through, the jet stream will quickly sink out of Canada and well south of the region, allowing polar air to spill southward and eastward," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike LeSeney explained.
Cold air will arrive first in the western Great Lakes. In locations such as Chicago, Milwaukee and Grand Rapids, Michigan, lows should reach into the 30s Thursday night, with temperatures near or below the freezing mark in northern Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula. As the cold air rushes in over the lower end of Lake Michigan, lakeshore flooding is possible from the south side of Chicago to southwestern Michigan.
By Friday night, the cold air will cover a broader area and extend eastward to the Atlantic coast. Cities such as Chicago and Detroit, as well as portions of the Cleveland metro area, are likely to see their first freeze of the season, as should portions of New England. Two cities in New England either tied or exceeded a record low Monday, with Houlton, Maine tying a 2017 record low of 24, and Caribou, Maine breaking a 1975 record of 27 with a low of 26.
Across the Northeast and mid-Atlantic and even extending as far south as northern Virginia, temperatures in the 30s are expected Friday night and Saturday morning.
In addition to the lower temperatures, gusty winds are likely to add an additional chill to the air. Winds could gust as high as 30 mph in spots as the potent cold front swings through, making the air feel even colder. AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures may dip into the 20s overnight across the Midwest and Northeast and may struggle to get out of the upper 30s and 40s during the day.
"For those who have become used to summer heat and humidity, the weather late this week will be a blustery reminder that fall is well underway, with winter not far off," LeSeney said.
Despite being quite strong, this system is unlikely to bring substantial precipitation along with it. As is common with storms originating in the interior of Canada, there will be little moisture to work with. As a result, any precipitation is expected to remain light and spotty, according to AccuWeather meteorologists.
However, some areas may still see their first snowflakes of the season since temperatures will drop to low enough levels.
In the Lower 48, snow could first occur across portions of Minnesota and northern Michigan Thursday night before pushing eastward into the Northeast to start the weekend. However, despite the sudden surge of cold air, the snow is likely to be very light and is unlikely to accumulate.
"While a slushy coating of snow can't be ruled out in some higher elevations in New England, the vast majority of any flurries or snow showers will not accumulate in the United States," LeSeney said, noting that ground temperatures would be much warmer than the colder air.
Farther north in Canada, weather conditions could be slightly more impactful, as temperatures will be lower and a bit more moisture may be present.
"The push of colder weather could also result in snowfall along portions of the Trans-Canada Highway across northern Ontario Thursday and across western Quebec by Friday. A bit of slushy snow could accumulate in these areas, including in cities such as Thunder Bay and Sudbury, Ontario," LeSeney explained.
In the Northeast, a gusty wind may help to keep nighttime temperatures from plummeting late this week to the first part of the weekend. However, the lowest temperatures of the season may soon follow.
"Where winds diminish and the sky becomes clear from late this weekend to early next week, there is the potential for a heavy frost in many locations that have not yet experienced freezing temperatures," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.
By early October, the growing season is effectively over for most of the region, but people hanging on to summer vegetable plants in their gardens may want to harvest by this weekend, especially north and west of Interstate 95.
"It is possible that the lowest temperatures reached during September may be surpassed by 5-10 degrees or more and that could have the cold spots dipping into the teens and 20s," Sosnowski added.
Daytime temperatures are likely to rebound heading into mid-October over much of the area, but chill may persist in parts of northern New York state and New England.
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