February 11, 2024

From 60s to Snow: The Northeast's Nor'easter's Set To Hit Hard Tuesday

It's been a long wait, but we've finally got a classic nor'easter brewing for the eastern half of the United States.

A foot of snow is likely to fall on Tuesday where temperatures climbed up into 60°F on Saturday. While this one isn't going to bring the blockbuster I-95 snows that weather enthusiasts gush about for the rest of their lives, this will be an impactful storm for a full one-third of the country.

We've got one heck of an upper-level low scooping through the southern half of the U.S. on Sunday and Monday. This feature, along with a ripping-fast jet stream, will help develop and strengthen a robust low-pressure system at the surface over the next few days. 

A model image depicting the upper-level pattern early Monday morning. (PolarWx/Tomer Burg)

Ample moisture streaming into the storm from the Gulf of Mexico will provide plenty of juice to fuel thunderstorms, heavy rains, and eventually heavy snowfall once the storm rolls into the Northeast late Monday into early Tuesday.

Severe weather risk

We're already feeling the start of this robust storm across the south where heavy rain and severe thunderstorms are ongoing from Texas to Mississippi.

The Storm Prediction Center issued an enhanced risk for severe weather on Sunday—a 3 out of 5 on the scale—stretching from the Houston metro area east into central Mississippi, with a broader risk for severe weather radiating out to cover the northern Gulf Coast up toward Birmingham and Atlanta.

The main risk we'll see with any thunderstorms that develop on Sunday will be damaging wind gusts of 60+ mph and hail the size of quarters or larger. A few tornadoes are possible, as well, especially in and around the enhanced risk area.

A risk for tornadoes on Super Bowl Sunday is a pretty nerve-wracking prospect for broadcast meteorologists in the region. It's likely that some CBS affiliates will have to cut into game-day programming for live coverage of tornado warnings.

Local television news stations are required to cover tornado warnings. It's a public service they're compelled to fulfill in exchange for holding a federal broadcast license. Getting the word out that deadly severe weather is imminent is more important than any show or sporting event, angry viewers and hateful comments be damned.

The risk for severe weather will push east into the day Monday, with a threat for damaging wind gusts spreading over most of the southeast as our low-pressure system continues strengthening as it tracks into the Mid-Atlantic.

Sharp cutoff in heavy snowfall totals

After the severe weather wanes, attention turns to the threat for disruptive snows across the Northeast.

This is going to be an all-or-nothing ordeal for many folks from northern Pennsylvania east toward coastal New England. The Weather Prediction Center's Winter Storm Severity Index (WSSI) shows "major impacts" are likely across eastern Massachusetts, centered around the Boston area, as a result of the very heavy snowfall expected on Tuesday.

Heavy snow will spread over much of Pennsylvania early Tuesday morning as our storm pushes into the region. We'll see snow steadily push east through the morning hours Tuesday as the low-pressure system intensifies and tracks toward the coast. 

This will be a daytime storm for the region, with very heavy snowfall rates and gusty winds plastering northern Pennsylvania through southern Maine into the evening commute before the snow eventually tapers off through the evening and overnight hours.

A very sharp cutoff in precipitation on the north side of the storm, combined with a sharp changeover to rain near the center of the low, will produce a swath of heavy snowfall that rapidly tapers to a dusting to the north and south.

Double-digit snowfall totals are likely for portions of northeastern Pennsylvania, upstate New York, northern Connecticut, and just about all of Massachusetts. This is likely going to cause traffic jams across the area, especially if people head to work and school in the morning and then try to head home after the snow begins. 

Slight changes in the track of the storm can have huge implications on snowfall totals with a cutoff this sharp. A nudge of five or ten miles to the north or south will drag those hefty snowfall totals right along with it.

If the current forecasts hold up, this is likely going to be Boston's largest snowstorm in two years. The city's last big-time snowstorm was 23.9" on January 29, 2022. The city's only measured 21.6" of snow in total across all of the storms they've seen in the past two winters combined.

[Satellite image via NOAA]

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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.