April 29, 2021

Strong Winds Will Blow Across The Mid-Atlantic And Northeast On Friday

Who doesn't love a good windstorm? (Most people, it turns out.) High winds are likely on Friday as a cold front pushes across the East Coast, prompting wind alerts from the southern Appalachians to northern New England. Some communities could see wind gusts of 50-60 MPH on Friday afternoon and evening, which could be enough to bring down trees and cause power outages.

A low-pressure system over New England will move east over the Atlantic Ocean overnight Thursday into Friday. A center of high pressure will build in over the Great Lakes behind the front, and the strong pressure gradient between the high over the lakes and the low over the ocean will lead to blustery conditions across the region.

Modeled winds at the 850 mb level of the atmosphere on Friday evening. SOURCE: Tropical Tidbits

Winds in the lower levels of the atmosphere (around 5,000 feet or so) will crank up as they blow over the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic on Friday afternoon. Daytime heating causes the atmosphere to overturn as warm air rises and cool air descends to take its place. This churning motion—called "mixing"—can nudge some of those fast winds down to the surface, leading to the potential for strong wind gusts that could down trees and power lines.

A high wind warning is in place for parts of the Mid-Atlantic covering Delaware, much of New Jersey, central Maryland, and southeastern Pennsylvania, including Baltimore, Wilmington, and Philadelphia. These areas could see wind gusts as high as 60 MPH when the winds peak late on Friday. Wind advisories are in effect for the potential for 40-50 MPH wind gusts from New England on down the spine of the Appalachians.

Flights to, from, or over the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast could experience severe turbulence at times thanks to the strong winds, a point worth keeping in the back of your mind if you're flying somewhere on Friday.

Dry air behind the front will lead to an increased fire risk for some areas. The Storm Prediction Center's fire weather outlook issued on Thursday afternoon paints an elevated risk for fire weather conditions in parts of eastern North Carolina and Virginia, but local NWS offices issued fire weather watches for a much wider area that extends west to include upstate South Carolina and the Piedmont in North Carolina and Virginia. (The SPC fire weather outlook will update again in the very early morning hours on Friday.)

Gusty winds (and the associated wildfire risk) will wane overnight Friday into Saturday as the low pulls away from the Canadian Maritimes and the pressure gradient weakens. 

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I graduated from the University of South Alabama in 2014 with a degree in political science and a minor in meteorology. I contribute to The Weather Network as a digital writer, and I've written for Forbes, the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang, Popular Science, Mental Floss, and Gawker's The Vane. My latest book, The Skies Above, is now available. My first book, The Extreme Weather Survival Manual, arrived in October 2015.