By Alex Sosnowski, expert senior meteorologist for AccuWeather.com
AccuWeather.com reports two storms will converge on the Northeast on Thursday with the potential for snow. How quickly they get together and strengthen will determine which areas are hit with heavy snow and which areas will have a near-miss.
The storm could have a major negative impact on travel for people returning from holiday destinations, heading back to school or resuming business activities.
People should be prepared for flight delays because of direct and indirect impacts from the far-reaching storm. Flights destined to New York City, Philadelphia and other airports may be held up due to deicing activities in the Midwest and in New England.
While millions of people in New England are likely to be hit by a snowstorm, the question is will an additional 10 million people have to shovel out in the storm's wake Friday, including New York City and Philadelphia.
Two possible scenarios, one is worse for Cape Cod
The snowier of two scenarios would suggest that New England will be hit with a powerful nor'easter that produces blizzard conditions, damaging winds and coastal flooding.
"If the two storms merge and strengthen too far off the mid-Atlantic coast, only intermittent snow, flurries or perhaps even nothing may fall on the I-95 corridor from Philadelphia north."
Even in areas as far south as Washington, D.C. and Richmond, the chance of snow is not zero if the storm strengthens quickly. Some snow could wrap around for a brief time.
In either case, the coldest air of the season so far will empty out of Canada in the wake of the storm.
3 to 6 inches of snow predicted for Cape Cod
The storm is forecast to bring a large area of 6- to 12-inch snowfall from northeastern Pennsylvania to a large part of New Jersey and southeastern New York state to southern New England. This includes the entire metropolitan area of New York City and Long Island, northward to Albany, N.Y., and Scranton and Allentown, Pa. Over a foot of snow will fall on a large part of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut and the cities of Hartford, Conn., Providence, R.I., and Boston.
According to Long Range Weather Expert Jack Boston, "If New York's Central Park fails to reach 20 degrees for a high temperature on Friday, it will be the first time this has occurred since Jan. 16, 2009."
In addition to the snowstorm in New England and the chance of accumulating snow in part of the I-95 mid-Atlantic, a swath of light to moderate snow will sweep from the Midwest to the central Appalachians during the middle of the week.
When combined with frigid temperatures, the snow will stick to the roads leading to slippery conditions and travel delays from Chicago to Indianapolis, Detroit, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.
Tune in to AccuWeather Live Mornings every weekday at 7 a.m. EST. We will be talking about the brutal Midwest cold and the potential snowstorm in the Northeast.
- Artwork courtesy of AccuWeather.com.