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Winter storm potential to increase during mid-February in eastern US

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As dramatic swings in temperature continue across the United States during February, the potential for a major storm will increase in the East toward the middle of the month.

Through next week, the weather pattern will remain active in the eastern part of the nation in the wake of severe weather in the South and snow and ice storms in the Northeast.

A couple of weak storms will roll from the Midwest to the Northeastern states this weekend into early next week.

Static US weekend

For most locations, rain will be the main form of precipitation for both storms.

However, there can be some ice and snow on the front end in parts of the Great Lakes, upstate New York and New England. As the second storm moves away, a push of cold air can trigger lake-effect snow.

The storms into Monday may not be the main weather events of the week.

Just enough cold air may sag in long enough to set the stage for wintry precipitation later in the week.

"How extensive and how heavy the snow and ice is later next week will depend on whether two weak storms develop or one strong storm forms," according to AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok.

Static Storm Merge Scenario

Large southward dips and northward bulges will continue with the jet stream this month.

The jet stream is a high-speed river of air at the level in the atmosphere where jet cruise at. When the jet stream bulges northward, warm air is able to surge in. When the jet stream plunges southward, cold air can pour out of Canada.

The jet stream often forms a highway for storm systems to travel upon. When multiple branches of the jet stream are present, multiple storms can exist.

"The key to one major storm versus two more modest storms will be if the two branches of the jet stream come together or not," Pastelok said. "If they phase, a major storm will form with the potential to move northward along the Atlantic seaboard with heavy precipitation, strong winds and associated major travel problems."

If the two branches of the jet stream remain separate, one moderate storm is likely to travel quickly across the Southern states and out to sea with rain and possible thunderstorms. Wet snow could fall on the northwestern flank of this storm in part of the South.

Static Storms Stay Separate Scenario

In that scenario, another storm will drop quickly southeastward across the Great Lakes and into the Northeast with light to moderate snow and slippery travel.

In the coming days, the details will be revealed as to whether one slow-moving major storm develops or multiple, less-intense storms sweep through.

"Some of our indicators are on board for a single major storm, but not all of them," Pastelok said. "It may not be until early next week before we can make a call one way or the other."

One aspect seems certain this far out.

Next week, the same pattern will allow the jet stream to bulge well to the north and cause a great deal of warmth to build over the western U.S. and western Canada.

As a consolation, waves of seasonable but relatively colder air will drop southward over eastern Canada and into the eastern U.S. through the middle part of the month.