Snow to threaten slippery travel as chilly air returns to northeastern US

Renee Duff
·4 min read

The pattern change in the Northeast may come as a shock to the system for some following mild weather, but forecasters say the return of cold and snow will be on par with what's typical for the middle of January.

The first half of January was a mild one for the northeastern corner of the nation, with temperatures averaging 4-5 degrees Fahrenheit above normal along the Interstate 95 corridor and 8-12 degrees higher than average in parts of New England.

Normal highs for the middle of January range from the upper teens in northern Maine to the upper 40s F in southeastern Virginia. Normal lows range from around zero in northern Maine to the lower 30s in southeastern Virginia.

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A cold front sweeping across the region through Saturday will cause temperatures to tumble back down to where they should be at this point in the year. However, forecasters say don't be fooled by the actual thermometer reading before stepping out the door.

"When factoring in mild air prior to the storm's arrival and AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures 10-20 degrees lower than the actual temperature from Saturday night to Sunday, it will feel like the middle of January and the cold will be penetrating," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.

Snowflakes flying in the air and, in many interior areas, accumulating on the ground and creating slippery travel by the end of the weekend, will add to the more typical wintry feel.

A storm that developed along the advancing cold front will aid in the production of snow for interior areas.

Friday night, rain mixed with and changed to a period of snow in portions of western and central New York state and Pennsylvania.

As the storm gains strength through the first half of the weekend, a swath of steady snow is forecast to target upstate New York into northern New England, as well as much of southern Quebec.

"The traditional higher-elevation locations such as the Catskill, Berkshire, Adirondack, Green and White mountains will pick up several inches of wet snow through Saturday," Sosnowski said.

By the second half of the weekend, snow will really begin to pile up downwind of the Great Lakes and into the Adirondacks and Green and White Mountains. By Monday morning well over a foot of snow is expected where snow through the weekend is most persistent, with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 30 inches (76 cm).

All rain is forecast for the big cities along the I-95 corridor, though wet snowflakes may mix in at the tail end of the precipitation. The steadiest rainfall will be out of Washington, D.C., and Baltimore by Saturday morning and exiting Boston by late Saturday afternoon.

Farther south and west, as colder air moves in, snow showers and at times some heavier snow squalls can make for tricky travel conditions through the weekend all the way from Illinois and Indiana through the Ohio Valley into western Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

"Conditions in this area can vary from breaks of sunshine to the risk of brief heavy snow and poor visibility with little notice for motorists rolling along at highway speeds," Sosnowski said.

Saturday morning snow squalls led to multiple accidents in the Pittsburgh area, including a multi-vehicle crash that resulted in significant disruptions on Interstate 79 just south of the city. Similar scenes could unfold in areas from Cincinnati to Charleston, West Virginia through Saturday afternoon.

A PennDOT camera captured this snowy image of an accident on Saturday morning in the Pittsburgh area. (PennDOT)

The snow showers around Buffalo, New York, Saturday night could make for a first for Baltimore Ravens star quarterback Lamar Jackson, who has never played a football game in the snow.

Flurries and snow showers will also frequent the Upper Midwest, Ohio Valley and the southern Appalachians into early next week.

"A reinforcing dose of cold air with some Arctic origin is forecast to settle eastward from the Great Lakes to the interior Northeast spanning Tuesday and Wednesday," Sosnowski said.

And forecasters say the chilly, snowy hits will keep coming for the last half of the month with AccuWeather's long-range team continuing to monitor a potential polar vortex intrusion.

Keep checking back on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.