A strong storm system affected a large portion of the United States this past week. There were blizzard conditions in the high plains, severe weather in the south and ice/snow in the northeast. This storm system is continuing to bring some light snow to parts of the Valley today.

However, there is another strong storm system brewing that could bring significant impacts to the Valley by the end of the week. What do we know right now? I will do my best to breakdown the possible storm tracks for this week and what they would mean for the area.

Focus on weather pattern and not specifics

First, I am going to state a disclaimer. Forecasting specifics for an upcoming storm can be difficult even 24 hours out. Forecasting specifics for a potential storm a week away is impossible. I am not going to write about specifics in this story because they will change.

What I am going to attempt to do is break down the weather pattern and what ingredients could come together for a big storm during the period from December 23rd – December 25th. Let’s dive into what we know right now.

The first major signal showing up in the forecast is some serious cold air spilling into the continental United States. This is important for two reasons:

  1. The colder air will increase the probability that precipitation is frozen
  2. Abnormally cold air can clash with the warmer air to fuel strong storm systems

So, how cold are we talking? Well, we can take a look at a temperature map for Christmas morning and show that forecast models are indicating well below average temperatures for Christmas morning.

Storm Team 27 Future Tracker temperature values valid for Sunday, December 25th.

The specifics of this will definitely change between now and the week of Christmas, but forecast models are hinting at a strong outbreak of arctic air across the United States.

Yes, that is a temperature of 16°F in southern Mississippi. Just for reference, the average low temperature in late December in southern Mississippi is in the upper 30s so that temperature would be close to 20 degrees below average for this time of year.

Overall, there is a high confidence that temperatures will be well below average for the second half of this coming week including the Christmas holiday. The exact track of the storm is more uncertain at this point.

There are two storm scenarios

The storm track specifics have become more clear since yesterday, but there are still two scenarios possible for this snowfall event.

Scenario #1: Northerly Track

The first scenario is that the low pressure system tracks from St. Louis, through Indiana, and to Detroit, MI. This scenario would certainly still bring snow to the Valley, but the heavier snowfall amounts would be shifted to the north and west of the area.

In this scenario, the low pressure system wfould track to the north and west of the Valley. Heavier snowfall accumulations would occur further west.

The forecast models seem to be favoring this scenario, but there is still time for the exact path of the low pressure system to change.

Scenario #2: Track over the Valley

There is a still a scenario where the low pressure system passes over the Valley. This would bring the potential for heavier snowfall accumulations to the Valley and stronger winds.

In this scenario, the storm tracks further to the east which could bring heavier snowfall accumulations to the Valley.

The bottom line is that forecast models are showing a strong push of cold air into the eastern United States at the end of next week. Temperatures are likely to be below average during the Christmas holiday.

Forecast models are also showing the potential for a strong storm across the United States. This storm could bring accumulating snowfall to the Valley. The exact track of the storm is uncertain.

A easterly track would increase the snowfall potential in the Valley. A northerly track would likely still result in snow, but not as much as the easterly track. The specific details of the forecast will become more clear next week.