"The impending Arctic blast will bring the coldest weather experienced in the Northeast for a few weeks," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Joe Lundberg said, "and the cold will not just last a day or two but for several days."
Outside of the St. Lawrence Valley, AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok does not anticipate this cold shot to bring significant departures from normal in the Northeast.
"It will be typical January cold, but that can still be a big shocker for residents and force higher energy demand," he said.
Thursday will have significant shock value to residents who have gotten accustomed to the recent mild weather across the Interstate 95 corridor.
Lake-effect snow showers and squalls are anticipated to develop in a west-to-east fashion downwind of the Great Lakes Tuesday into Wednesday and can last into Thursday.
There is a potential for a foot or more of snow in the typical snow belts located to the southeast of all five Great Lakes, as well as in the Laurel Mountains of Pennsylvania. Major disruptions to daily routines, as well as school closures, can be anticipated.
Anyone planning to travel on stretches of I-90 from near Syracuse, New York, to Cleveland, Ohio, I-80 in western Pennsylvania and northeastern Ohio, I-75 in northern Michigan and other area interstates and roads should be prepared for difficult travel.
Snow squalls can cause rapid whiteouts and slick road conditions. These adverse conditions are notorious for causing chain-reaction accidents, potentially 100 to 200 miles away from the lakes.
Closer to the lakes, road crews may struggle to keep up with intense snowfall rates. Anyone who must travel during this time should have a winter survival kit in the event they become stranded.
The snow will be a boon to the ski resorts that have had to cut back on the number of slopes open.
While the lake-effect snow and biting winds should abate by Friday, Lundberg anticipates cold to hold in the Northeast through next weekend.
"The cold should fade next week, but this is a warning shot for winter’s return late in the month and early February," he added.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Kristina Pydynowski is an AccuWeather senior meteorologist.