After spending 14 days below freezing, I think we’re ALL looking forward to a little warmth. A mini January thaw is underway. Temperatures finally climb above freezing Tuesday afternoon under some sunshine. Ahhhhh how good it will feel. Beyond this though, our warm up comes with an asterisk. First up is a little wintry mix Wednesday night into early Thursday morning. Warm fronts have a tough time climbing over the rolling hills and secluded valleys of Pennsylvania this time of year. The result will be localized slick spots in the sheltered valleys of NEPA Thursday morning. This is less of a concern than what comes after that.
Above are the Ensemble forecasts for both the GFS and EURO models valid 7AM Saturday morning. Talk about consistent! Both show a strong, sprawling Arctic High with a surface low pressure system developing along the Eastern seaboard. Taken at face value, this is just a close shave rain maker for us with cold air falling in behind. However, I’m not 100% sold that will be the case. It wouldn’t take much of an eastward shift to make this a wintry mix/snow maker for us. Analogs to the current storm forecast show a strong potential for an icy mix. We still have a couple days to watch how this evolves, but with all that cold air pressing on this system, I have a hunch that we see an eastward shift, or more icy scenario, with our operational guidance in the coming days.
If this does stay a pure rain maker, that doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods.
The picture above is the GFS Ensemble forecast for 24 hour precipitation valid 1PM Friday to 1PM Saturday. That’s a bunch of liquid! Our recent cold snap has frozen up our rivers and streams. This amount of rain combined with temperatures pushing 50 is a recipe for ice jams.
So there’s really a not a camp you want to root for here. Ice jams, or potential ice storm are both potentially high impact events. It’s cliche but true – stay tuned!
Stormtracker 16 Meteorologist John Hickey