Warm air ramps up its move into Ohio today, and we see this mild push through Thursday. South winds are fueling the warming, and that is leading to some decent snow melt, even over the northern parts of the state. We will have to deal with low level clouds and fog the next several days, thanks the relatively warm air coming over a cold surface, but still, the mild push will be significant. Thursday will be our warmest day.
Our next front remains on track to bring rains into Ohio Thursday and evening into Friday morning. Liquid precipitation will range from a few hundredths to about a third of an inch over no more than 60% of the state. The initial liquid precipitation break out looks slightly better and more frequent to our west in Indiana Thursday afternoon. It just seems to run out of gas here. Then, cold air comes rushing back in behind the cold front on Friday, as a strong, powerful low lifts up along it. That will set the stage for significant snow accumulations from Friday midday through Saturday. Snow totals will depend heavily on the track of the low. One model takes the storm center (the main low) from Tupelo to Nashville to Charleston, WV to Pittsburg. That model projects the heaviest snow to run across Indiana from southwest to northeast, about 130 miles either side of a line from Vincennes to Muncie to Sandusky, OH. That track could put double digit snowfall accumulations in over NW Ohio, and spread it out from there. Another model does not develop good circulation around the low until it spins up around Blacksburg, VA, and then moves to Harrisburg, PA and eventually to NYC. That would produce the heavy snows fully over Ohio, and leave Indiana with nearly nothing. In that scenario, there is potential for double digit snowfall totals over 60% of Ohio. Now, we think the track of the first model makes the most sense at this time, and it has been similar the past 3 runs. But, that being said, we will continue to monitor this event. The track can change and even end up merging the two ideas this morning. Either way, we are on the lookout for snows that can be quite significant out of this system, because it has tied into an ample moisture source, and the cold air is coming in with no major interference. The magnitude of the warm air push ahead of the system, and the strength of the winds will give us an indication that this storm is strong, and will have the potential to produce copious precipitation. We will hold off on snow totals for several days, but are suggesting that this has the potential to be an epic winter storms across Indiana and Ohio. Gusty winds will produce blowing snow on top of this. The heaviest snows will be from noon Friday through noon Saturday, but wrap around snows can linger through Sunday in northern areas.
Behind the system, cold air comes blasting back into the region, and stays through Tuesday. This will include low wind chills and a move below zero at least one night and perhaps more for true air temperatures.
Our forecast is unchanged from midweek forward. Next Wednesday, we will make an attempt to moderate temps slightly once again, but we will not see anything like our temperature profile today through Thursday. Strong SW winds will likely fuel the moderating push ahead of our next weather system, triggering a brief, slight thaw. But, we look for scattered rain showers changing to snow late next week for Friday into Saturday, followed by cold air through the 21st. The extended 11-16 day forecast period brings another strong front and potential aggressive winter storm for the 22nd and 23rd, as a large, powerful low exits the plains and moves east/northeast. We expect this to bring another round of rains followed by significant snow and arctic air. So, don’t let the next few days fool you. Enjoy them…but remember – it is, in fact still only early January.