The return to cold weather next week will be anything but straight forward as several storms of various strength and track will swing through.
Cold air will return in stages late this weekend into the end of next week. While that cold air will not have the staying power of much of this past winter, it will be strewn with storm systems. Any of these storms have the potential to bring a surprise snow.
The coldest air will settle in late in the week as the polar vortex is forecast to take another southward dip.
The cumulative nature of the storms may put some communities back in the mode where it is snowing every day or every other day. Budget and salt supply concerns may again arise. As will the potential for more travel and school disruptions.
The first potential snow event appears to be a minor one with a general 1 to 2 inches within its reach. A few spots could pick up a bit more, and some locations may get just flurries. This snow will be a rather long, skinny band of snow reaching from the Ohio Valley to the central Appalachians and part of the mid-Atlantic and southern New England coasts. It will begin Saturday night over the Midwest and reach the coast by late Sunday or Sunday night. Near the coast, some of the precipitation may fall as rain or a wintry mix.
A second and rather weak system will swing eastward from the Midwest Monday night and will cross the Appalachians and reach the East Coast Tuesday.
A third system Tuesday night and Wednesday appears to be the strongest of the bunch through midweek.
According to Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydnowski, "The storm during the middle of next week will travel along the zone of greatest temperature contrast, which right now looks to be from the Tennessee Valley to the lower mid-Atlantic coast."
Many storms have turned out stronger or over-achieved, when compared to early indications.
"If the storm ends up being stronger, it could take more of a northward turn along the Atlantic coast," Pydnowski said.
A stronger storm tracking in this manner would have a greater chance at bringing heavier snow farther north, than a modest storm heading straight out to sea.
In this very challenging weather pattern, the details on the storms may not be available until within a day or two of the actual event and adjustments to the forecast over time is likely.