The jet stream is revving up again. A storm system earlier this week dumped more than 12 inches of snow across portions of northern Kansas, eastern Nebraska, and western and central Iowa. The system also produced good rainfall for the Ohio and Tennessee River Valleys.
This storm is the first of at least three major storms to move through the country through the end of next week.
Storm No. 2 is currently over the Intermountain West on Jan. 29. It will emerge into the Central Plains on Saturday and move east through the Mid-Atlantic through Monday. Moderate precipitation is expected across the eastern Plains and most areas east of the Mississippi River due to this storm system. Snowfall amounts over 12 inches are yet again possible, this time with the heaviest snows from eastern Iowa to northwest Ohio.
Another heavy band could set up right along the East Coast from Washington, D.C to Boston, though models are unsure of that possibility. Thunderstorms and moderate rainfall may add 1 to 1.5 inches of liquid to the soil profile from eastern Kansas to southern Ohio as well, helping to alleviate localized areas of dryness and drought. The system will do very little for the western and Northern Plains, where drought is the worst, but the third storm in the series may change that.
This storm system is expected to move into the West Coast early next week. Moderate to heavy precipitation will again spread through the West, where it has been extremely dry this winter season, until recently. This system emerges into the Plains either Feb. 3 or Feb. 4 and moves northeast through southeastern Canada through the end of next week.
Model details still need to be determined for track and amounts, but there is a good signal for heavy snowfall for a corridor from Colorado to Lake Superior. Precipitation is also expected to wrap around the west side of this storm, bringing snowfall to western Kansas and southeast Colorado, an area that has remained dry for several months. Should this pan out, moisture will increase for winter wheat in the southwestern Plains and drought will be eased across much of the Central Plains into western Iowa.
More moderate showers are also expected across the eastern Plains eastward through the East Coast. With the dynamics this system is likely to contain, strong to severe thunderstorms will also be possible along the cold front as it pushes through this region as well.
And if that were not enough, arctic cold air will follow behind this system. The lowest temperatures are expected to hit the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest, but well-below normal temperatures could also filter down through the rest of the Plains. It would not be surprising to see below freezing temperatures make their way to the Gulf of Mexico either.
Needless to say, the weather will continue to be active and volatile during the next couple of weeks.
John Baranick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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