WASHINGTON — As the old adage states, “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.” While only time will tell how the month ends, March is most certainly coming in like a lion this year, especially in the Northeast. As of Thursday morning, a system is making its way through the Midwest and Southern US, dropping additional heavy rains in areas already dealing with flood conditions from previous February rains and snow melt. The Great Lakes can expect to see some snow Thursday as well as the system forges eastward. While places further east will start out as rain, likely Thursday afternoon, locations in the interior Northeast and those at higher elevations, such as the Pocono Mountains, will be the first to see precipitation change from rain to snow as cold air moves in by Friday. On Friday, the system will be offshore and begin strengthening in to a Nor’easter, just off the coast. Impacts of the storm will include a combination of rain, snow, and strong winds. While interior Northeast and higher elevations will receive the highest snow totals, snow or a mix of rain and snow is also expected for lower elevation locations as the system strengthens. Warmer temperatures near the surface will limit accumulations in these regions, but it is still possible that major cities such as Philadelphia, New York, and Boston see an inch or two of snow. New England can expect to see some lingering showers on Saturday as well before the system heads away from the coast.
Strong winds are a concern for this system as well. As of Thursday morning, many from Virginia to coastal New England were already under either a High Wind Warning, High Wind Watch, or a Wind Advisory. Northern Virginia, including Washington DC, much of Maryland, and coastal New Jersey are expected to see sustained winds on Friday of 25-35 miles per hour with gusts as high as 60-65 miles per hour. Coastal locations in the Northeast, such as Long Island and Cape Cod could also see wind gusts as strong as 60 miles per hour with this system. Coastal flooding is also likely, especially during high tide, from Virginia Beach up through the New England coast.
While the Northeast prepares for this storm, those in the Southwest and South Central US are still waiting for rain to help current drought conditions. Rains last week across some areas of the South Central did help to improve drought conditions for locations such as eastern Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, eastern Texas, and Louisiana though. Unfortunately, the areas with the worst drought conditions, like southern Kansas, western Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle, and the 4-corner states largely missed out on the rains. Extreme drought now encompasses much of western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle, with widespread Severe drought for the rest of the impacted areas. Little expansion of drought conditions occurred from the previous week, but over the next 7 days, little to no relief is in the forecast. Coupled with above normal temperatures over the next 7 days, drought could worsen in parts.
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