It pays to study long-range weather forecasts. I’ve been an amateur meteorologist for 50 years so weather always interests me, but sometimes it pays real dividends. CNN just published an article about the severe winter weather that will hit the Colorado / Nebraska area in the days after Christmas.
I knew this was coming two weeks ago. It affected my decision to start my drive from Montana to West Virginia as soon as possible. I was glad when my departure moved up from Dec 16 to Dec 15. I had my choice of I-70, I-80, or I-90. All had good conditions for the entire trip. I-90 is the shortest route, but I chose the most southern route, I-70, in order to get into warmer temperatures as quickly as possible. This was only partially successful, because a cold air mass out of Canada ended up reaching about 100 miles farther south into Kansas than I expected and engulfed I-70 in cold air. The weather was fine, but when you sleep in your car, the outside temperature matters. So, here comes the weather system I was avoiding. It’s going to directly affect all three Interstates, 70, 80, and 90.
However, that’s not why I’m posting this. There’s a coming change on the horizon. The Northwest and much of the country, including West Virginia, has been experiencing above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation — a mild winter. This results from the weak El Niño combined with the Alaska High. But the models now show that ridging will set up over the middle of the country over the next two weeks. This will not affect the Pacific Northwest but it will have some major effects on the Eastern USA.
In a couple of weeks, the Northeast from West Virginia and Maryland up to Maine will likely plunge into a period of extended cold temperatures and high precipitation. Very cold and lots of snow are what the models call for. Mid-January to mid-February, which is the coldest part of winter anyway, will actually be cold and snowy. Be ready.