Historic Snow Storm Next Week?

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By Quincy Vagell on February 28, 2013, 6:05pm Last modified: March 1, 2013, 4:16pm

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Although a winter storm is currently projected to stay south and east of Connecticut next week, portions of the East Coast could be dealing with a historic March snow storm.

The current computer model consensus, focusing on the reliable European model, indicates that low pressure could develop off the Carolina coast during the middle of next week. Such a track with cold air in place to the north is not very common for areas like North Carolina and Virginia this late in the season.

In fact, the last time Richmond, Virginia saw over 6.3" of snow in March was 1980.
---That's 33 years without a significant snow storm in March.

The overall pattern, with a large trough over the East Coast for this weekend into early next week, will most likely suppress any storm to the south of Connecticut. I still have some skepticism about the the coastal plain Virginia and North Carolina seeing significant snow, but it's hard to ignore the European model. The model has had seven (7) consecutive runs in a row with a significant snow storm for the mid-Atlantic region. Even though there have been some minor shifts with the storm, that kind of consistency shows a strong signal of a major storm developing. It's still about 6-7 days out, so the models still need to be monitored for any shifts. The GFS has been leaning further out to sea, but that model has shown a southeast bias with many coastal storms in the past.

A few quick thoughts on climatology with March winter storms...
---The March 1-2, 1980 storm was an extreme case of low pressure developing in the Gulf of Mexico with an intense 1052mb high pressure system moving in from the Plains. The end result was a historic March snowfall from the Gulf Coast states up into the mid-Atlantic region.
---The Superstorm of 1993 also developed in the Gulf of Mexico, but the heaviest snows fell along and west of the Appalachian mountains. Richmond set daily snowfall records on both the 13th and 14th of March, 1993, but snowfall totals were only 2.8" and 0.7" respectively.
---In March of 2001, a historic winter storm was forecast to bring heavy snow to the mid-Atlantic and there was a lot of hype leading up to the storm. The storm ended up tracking much further north than forecast and instead of places like D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia receiving 1-2 feet of snow, they finished with mostly rain. Even Connecticut saw a lot of mixed precipitation, but northern parts of the state finished with well over 1 foot of snow.

Only time will tell, but if the Euro is correct, this could be a historic late-season snow storm for portions of the lower mid-Atlantic region, as well as the lower Appalachians and perhaps parts of the Southeast. Notice how cold air wraps all the way down into Georgia and South Carolina with the 540 line (1000-500mb thickness). This would be highly unusual for March! Note that the Euro tends to outperform the GFS model when it comes to major or historic storms...

Stay tuned to WXedge.com for the latest discussions on this potential storm.

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Quincy Vagell

Town: Naugatuck, CT  

Reporting for WXedge since January 2012.

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