Clipper storm could be 1st of several snowmakers for Northeast

·5 min read

As cold air expands its reach into the northeastern United States on Sunday, one or more storms from Canada will bring not only the first flakes of the season to some areas but also the first accumulation of snow since last winter for other parts of the region.

The combination of a southward dip in the jet stream, that is unleashing cold air from central Canada to the northeastern U.S., and a series of disturbances from the northern Pacific Ocean will lead allow one or more fast-moving storms with snow to target the Northeast into the middle of the week.

These storms tend to organize over the western provinces of Canada and are dubbed Alberta clippers due to their fast movement and origin. While these storms can occur year-round, they are most pronounced during the late autumn, winter and early spring, when they tend to produce snow or mixed wintry precipitation, near and north of the center of the storm. Because they tend to ride along on the jet stream, where the boundary of cold and warm air reside, often there is little precipitation or just rain south of the storm center.

One Alberta clipper dove southeastward over the Upper Midwest and produced a swath of accumulating snow from northern Minnesota to northern Ohio during the first part of this weekend. It brought up to four inches of snow to parts of Michigan and Wisconsin on Saturday.

As the storm continued to move along, it began to track on a more easterly path upon reaching the central Appalachians. It gathered a bit of moisture from the open waters of the Great Lakes and began depositing that moisture in the form of accumulating snow on parts of Pennsylvania, western Maryland and New York state on Saturday night.

A general 1-3 inches of snow fell from western and northern Pennsylvania to western and central New York state by Sunday morning. However, snow will continue to fall Sunday and Sunday night downwind of the eastern Great Lakes and amounts of 3-6 inches are anticipated with locally higher totals by Monday morning. Road conditions in this zone, including along portions of interstates 79, 80, 81, 86, 90 and 99, will range from wet to slushy to snow-covered with the worst conditions likely over the higher elevations.

As the storm progresses eastward Sunday afternoon and night, it will encounter slightly warmer conditions, largely brought on by the Atlantic Ocean where surf temperatures range from the 40s east of Massachusetts to the 50s along much of the mid-Atlantic coast.

As the cold air from Canada and the warm air from the Atlantic Ocean mix and reach a balance, temperatures will likely remain above freezing during much of the storm from southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey to the southeastern parts of New York state and New England from Sunday afternoon to Sunday evening.

The atmospheric condition will result in rain or a rain and snow mix in much of this mid-Atlantic and southeastern New England zone. While most roadways will be wet during the storm from Sunday afternoon to Sunday night, it is possible for some roads to cool enough to allow slippery conditions to develop, especially outside of major urban areas.

Where snow manages to fall at a steady clip Sunday into Sunday night, there can be a coating to an inch or two on some non-paved surfaces north and west of cities like Providence, Rhode Island and Boston. Cities such as Albany, New York; Hartford, Connecticut; Worcester, Massachusetts; Rutland, Vermont; and Manchester and Portsmouth, New Hampshire; are in the zone where a general 1-3 inches is most likely with locally higher amounts up to 6 inches or so in the highest terrain.

"Areas in New England may have some trouble with accumulating snow and a dip in temperature toward the end of the storm late Sunday night to early Monday," according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Dean DeVore, who added that motorists in the area should be prepared for some slippery roads come Monday morning.


Parts of the central Appalachians, mid-Atlantic and southern New England regions are still awaiting their first accumulating snowfall of the season. The last time there was more than just a few flakes of snow in New York City was on Feb. 22., when 0.4 of an inch of snow fell. Meanwhile, Boston picked up more than 0.1 of an inch of snow on Feb. 19, when 4.8 inches of snow fell. State College, Pennsylvania, is among some of the locations in the central Appalachians that had dodged a general snowfall since last winter with only snowflakes or a spotty dusting of snow through Friday. The last time there was more than a light coating of snow in State College before Friday night was on Feb. 22, when about 2 inches of snow fell. However, both Friday and by Sunday morning State College had seen two separate rounds of accumulating snow.

As many as two more clipper storms could roll from the Canada Prairies to the New England coast through Thursday night. Both would have their snow zone north and east of the storm track from the Great Lakes to the central Appalachians and Northeast.

Another possibility is that the cold air eases a bit with just very weak disturbances that struggle to produce much more than snow and rain showers.

In addition to the chances of snow, cold air more fitting of Christmastime will stick around the Northeast this week with temperature departures of 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit below normal. During late November, high temperatures typically range from the mid-30s in northern Maine to the upper 50s over the lower part of the Chesapeake Bay region.

RealFeel temperatures will range from below zero in the northern Appalachians and the single digits in the central Appalachians to the teens along the New England and upper mid-Atlantic coasts to the 20s around the Chesapeake Bay.

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