A blast of arctic air will be accompanied by flurries and even a localized wall of snow in some communities in the Northeast and parts of the Midwest at the start of the Valentine's Day weekend.
Motorists on area highways such as interstates 70, 79, 80, 81 and 90 should be on the lookout for rapidly changing weather conditions from Friday into Saturday morning. The combination of a weak Alberta Clipper storm and an arctic cold front will cause the snow showers to erupt well away from the Great Lakes.
According to AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams, while some communities may receive little or no accumulation from the event, a small number of places hundreds of miles from the Great Lakes can be hit by a heavy snow squall.
"The risk for a blinding snow squall will extend into parts of the Ohio Valley, the central Appalachians and even the mid-Atlantic and New England coasts," Abrams said.
The metro areas of Detroit; Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio; Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Scranton, Pennsylvania; New York City, Buffalo and Albany, New York; Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; Burlington, Vermont; and Boston could be affected.
The nature of the snow squalls will be to reduce the visibility to near zero and deliver a coating to an inch of snow. Only a lack of moisture will prevent heavier snow from falling well away from the Great Lakes.
Due to the drop in temperature associated with the polar plunge, road conditions can become snow-covered and icy in a matter of a couple of minutes.
According to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Bernie Rayno, "In addition to the flurries and snow squalls, a period of steady snow may develop in Maine for a time on Saturday."
During Saturday afternoon and into Sunday, the dry part of the arctic air will take over and greatly reduce the amount of flurries and squalls. However, bands of heavy lake-effect snow will continue in some communities immediately downwind of the Great Lakes.
This weekend, the polar plunge will yield the lowest temperatures of the winter and could briefly rival the lowest readings of last winter in some areas of the eastern United States.