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December to feature temperature swings, more large storms

By Alex Sosnowski • Nov 29, 2018 at 7:00 PM

The storm that sent drenching rain and mountain snow into California and the Southwest states this week will produce blizzard conditions over a portion of the northern Plains and Upper Midwest this weekend.

Snow that develops over the northern Plains during Friday night will expand to the northwestern Great Lakes region on Saturday. Blizzard conditions are forecast to unfold on Saturday over the northern Plains and continue into Sunday.

Rain is forecast to spread from the central Plains during late Friday to the central Great Lakes region on Saturday.

Farther south, the same storm has the potential to produce severe weather over the lower Mississippi Valley.

Chicago is expected to receive a little wintry precipitation on Thursday but not from the upcoming major storm.

While the storm will spare Chicago a blizzard and Kansas City, Missouri, heavy snow, it may reach Minneapolis and blast Sioux Falls, South Dakota, with windswept, heavy snow.

Even though there is still some wiggle room in terms of the exact track of the storm, the swath of heaviest snow and strongest winds is likely to extend from parts of western and central Nebraska to portions of South Dakota, northern Iowa, southern Minnesota, northern Wisconsin and part of northern Michigan.

Denver is forecast to receive a bit of rain and snow on Friday, but the worst of the storm may dodge the city and major airport hub. The mountains to the west will pick up several inches of snow.

Around Omaha, Nebraska, a close call between near-blizzard conditions and a mixture of rain and snow is setting up for this weekend. A southward shift in the storm track could put the zone of heavy snow in the city.

Where the storm from last weekend focused on the Interstate-80 corridor of the Plains and Midwest, this storm is likely to focus along a large swath of I-90 and U.S. Route 20 of the Plains. However, some portions of I-80 in Nebraska may also experience dangerous travel conditions.

People planning on venturing cross country through this region should consider choosing an alternative, more southern route, leaving early or delaying the trip before the storm begins.

Even though snow is not in the offing from the storm for Chicago, Detroit, Cincinnati and St. Louis, enough rain and windy conditions can occur to cause airline delays and urban flooding for motorists and pedestrians to make for travel difficulties.

The same storm, combined with a press of cold air, is forecast to produce snow over parts of Montana and Wyoming this weekend. Travel is likely to deteriorate along I-15, I-25, I-90 and I-94 in this area as the storm unfolds farther east.

Snow is likely to remain south of much of North Dakota and perhaps northern Minnesota.


Two more storms on horizon

A second storm is forecast to reorganize over the Southwest states early next week then swing northeastward into midweek.

The track of that second storm will determine which areas receive rain and which areas in the Midwest and Northeast get some sort of snow or a wintry mix.

"There is the potential for a swath of snow or a rain and snow mix from the Ohio Valley to parts of the central and southern Appalachians, upper mid-Atlantic and southern New England areas, spanning Tuesday to Wednesday of next week," said Bernie Rayno, an AccuWeather senior meteorologist.

Another storm may follow in a few days.

"The idea of a third storm is gaining momentum before the middle of the month," said Paul Pastelok, AccuWeather lead long-range meteorologist.

"That third storm spanning Dec. 7 to 9, could pack a punch in terms of heavy rain in the South and along the immediate Atlantic coast with the poential for heavy snow inland," Pastelok said.

With any of the storms, rain may lead to urban flooding and hinder travel on the highways, and fog and low clouds may lead to airline delays.

Where heavy snow falls, flight cancellations are more likely and travel on the roads may be very difficult.

The details will unfold in the coming days on the three storms.

"During the period from Dec. 10 to 20, the number of storms may decrease and/or the overall size of the storms may be such to affect a georgrapical smaller area," Pastelok said.

"The lull in storms is not likely to last through Christmas or even the days leading up to Christmas as the jet stream pattern looks to remain quite active due to El Niño," said Max Vido, also an AccuWeather lead long-range meteorologist.


Cold snap continues

For the first time since April, the average monthly temperature is colder than normal, according to the National Weather Service. 

On average, this November has been almost 6 degrees colder than November 2017. The average November temperature for this region is 49 degrees, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“We didn’t have much of an October or September this year,” Cleveland meteorologist Sarah Jamison said. “In terms of temperature, it’s like we had two Augusts, half an October and then dove right into a cold November.”

Temperatures have been in the mid- to low-30s since Nov. 13. That’s much colder than this time last year when temperatures occasionally rose above 60 degrees. 

“That’s likely due to the timing of a pattern shift,” Jamison said. “As we get into shorter days, there can be more fluctuation. We’ve been running above normal for so long. Maybe that’s why this cold stands out so much.”

These cold temperatures could lead to snowfall this week. Snow is possible today, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, although not more than half an inch at a time. Temperatures are forecasted to stay in the mid-30s until Friday, according to AccuWeather.com.

Although temperatures along the north coast have been cold, Jamison said this weather isn’t unheard of. 

“There have been a number of colder Novembers,” Jamison said. “It looks like, right now, this November ranks as the 24th coldest.”


EDITOR’S NOTE: By Alex Sosnowski is an AccuWeather senior meteorologist. Tandem Media Network contributed to this story.


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