Many in the Northeast are digging out from the most recent snowstorm, but a clipper system is set to dive across the Northern Great Lakes region to end the week.  This system may not have the strength as its predecessor, but the chance for a wintry mix and possibly freezing rain could make travel conditions dicey.

“The main forecast concerns and challenges through the short term forecast period lie around Friday`s system in terms of precip type(s), timing, and amounts.” National Weather Service, Gaylord, Michigan.

A surface low north of the Dakotas will be propelled eastward by a short wave trough, bringing back the chances for ran, sleet, snow, and possibly freezing rain.  The biggest unknown will be in the band of rain and snow, which begins to set up across Wisconsin Thursday night.  Temperatures through the lowest levels of the atmosphere will be extremely close to freezing.  Profiles like this make the line between rain and snow quite fuzzy and difficult to pin down.  This band will then shift southeast across Michigan, northern Indiana, and Ohio by Friday morning.

Forecasting for freezing rain, sleet, and snow can a challenge for forecasters. Only a difference of a few degrees can quickly change the type of precipitation seen, and its associated impacts. (Image courtesy of NWS Kansas City).

Warmer air out ahead of the band will be the key to determining the precipitation type.  If winds out of the south are stronger, the snow would be confined to the more northern regions.  Overall, the threat for sleet and freezing rain will come across southwest Michigan and southern Wisconsin.  Because of this, travel conditions will deteriorate in these regions heading into Friday morning.

During the day Friday, temperatures will climb above freezing, and the snow will turn to rain across the southern Ohio Valley.  Cold air then funnels behind the low Saturday, switching back to a wintry mix as the system moves into Pennsylvania and New York.  Higher elevations across West Virginia and Pennsylvania will see greater accumulations than in the lowlands.

By Saturday morning, the clipper will bring a mix of rain and snow across the Great Lakes and part of the Northeast. (Image Courtesy of Tropical Tidbits)

Once the system passes, more cold air will funnel into the region, making for a colder than average weekend for many across the Great Lakes.


About Kevin Thiel

Kevin is a Meteorology Major and Mathematics Minor at Ohio University, with an interest for thunderstorm electrification and research. On campus, he serves as President of the AMS Student Chapter, along with Webmaster and Forecaster for the campus atmospheric lab. This past summer, Kevin interned at the National Weather Service office in Miami, Florida, using lightning and radar data to study severe thunderstorm potential. One day, Kevin hopes to enter into field of academia and research, or become a forecaster with the Storm Prediction Center.