By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist

Published Jan. 2, 2022 9:33 AM CST | Updated Jan. 2, 2022 8:10 PM CSTCopied seconds of 1 minute, 30 seconds Volume 0% Northeast residents to experience weather whiplash

After a storm system moves through the region, a sharp drop in temperature will bring an end to a stretch of milder weather.

Heading back to work or school on Monday? A sneaky storm from the southern United States will swing northward and strengthen enough to blast part of the mid-Atlantic region with a dose of heavy snow as dramatically colder air sweeps in, AccuWeather meteorologists say.

While the exact track and strength of the southern U.S. storm continues to change by the hour, the ingredients are in place for part of the mid-Atlantic to have snow fall at a heavy rate of 1-3 inches per hour for a time on Monday. Questions remain as to how far north the northern extent of the heavy snow will end up.

“It may be hard to believe that any snow is on the way, given the warmth and lack of wintry weather thus far this season,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Ryan Adamson said, warning that the situation will be very different by Monday morning.

Even though much of the New Year’s holiday weekend may have felt like springtime with highs in the 50s and 60s F, the atmosphere is changing gears quickly and is poised to slash temperatures by 30-40 degrees Fahrenheit in a matter of hours from Sunday night to Monday.

The storm setup will be a game of miles. Should the storm shift its track several dozen miles farther north, then Washington, D.C.Baltimore and Richmond, Virginia, may not be the only major cities along Interstate 95 to receive heavy snowfall. Flakes could fall fast and furiously enough to bring several inches to part of the zone from Philadelphia to New York City.

“The upcoming storm is likely to begin as rain Sunday night over the lower part of the mid-Atlantic region as colder air is still filtering in,” Ryan said, “As the storm strengthens and the precipitation moves northward into progressively colder air, rain will change over to snow in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and snow may begin to fall in Philadelphia.”

How far north or south the storm tracks is key for heavy snow versus flurries versus nothing at all. A distance of 30 miles could be the dividing line for all three zones with this storm. This means that friends or family, or a home or business a short distance away can have vastly different weather conditions on Monday.

In the core of the storm’s heavy snow, there is the potential for 6-12 inches and locally higher amounts to pile up. At this time, that heavy amount of snow is most likely to fall from parts of eastern Virginia to the eastern shore of Maryland, much of Delaware and southern New Jersey.

Philadelphia is likely to be on the northwestern edge of heavy versus light snow with the storm and a gradation from southeast to northwest is likely with the heaviest snow of several inches or more likely in neighboring New Jersey. New York City is expected to be on the northern edge of the storm with little or no accumulation over the northwestern suburbs and a moderate-to-heavy snowfall likely in central New Jersey. However, a shift in track by a few dozen miles could bring heavy snow into the heart of the two cities with accumulating snow to the north and west, or cause most of the snow to stay to the southeast.

The storm responsible for a swath of accumulating snow for thousands of miles in the Southwestern and Central states earlier this weekend will be strong enough to bring cold air into the central and southern Appalachians and Northeast early this week. The problem is the jet stream will remain in a southwest to northeast configuration and allow a storm from the south to ride northeastward as the cold air is taking root.

Instead of snow falling for a few hours and bringing a light-to-moderate accumulation to the southern Appalachians and southern Virginia as anticipated from Saturday, the storm will now have a pathway to move farther to the north.

Another forecast challenge with the storm will be the amount of snow that accumulates on road surfaces. Since roads have absorbed some of the 50- and 60-degree warmth from recent days, the snow may melt as it falls. However, where the rate of snow becomes heavy enough, the storm can overcome warm road surface temperatures and cause them to cool quickly. In this case, roads may quickly transition from wet to slushy to snow-covered in a matter of an hour or so. People on the roads during Monday could be caught in such a situation with the potential for major travel slowdowns.

People should expect major travel problems to develop and spread northward on Monday in the mid-Atlantic region with slow travel on the roads and an escalation in airline delays and flight cancellations as a result of direct or indirect impacts from the storm from Washington, D.C. to Philadelphia, New York City and even Boston. Ripple effect days from this storm and the massive system that hit the Plains and Midwest this weekend are likely to continue as well.

Where heavy snow falls from the storm, or a freeze-up occurs, COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites may temporarily close. Parking lots at testing centers, in addition to drive-up testing can be filled with several inches of snow in some locations. Some areas may be difficult to clear where snow is heaviest, especially as temperatures begin to drop in the wake of the storm. In addition to COVID-19 testing areas, hospitals and other medical centers may face increased pressure with staffing shortages due to the pandemic and inability to travel for some.


The same quick-hitting snowstorm will affect areas from Tennessee to the southern Appalachians from late Sunday to Sunday night. “Cities such as Nashville, Tennessee, and Asheville, North Carolina, likely to pick up a few inches of snow from the storm,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Nicole LoBiondo said.

In addition to the potential for road surfaces to become snow-covered and slippery in the mid-Atlantic, stretches of interstates 26, 40, 75, 81 and 85 farther southwest can become hazardous where snow falls and/or moisture freezes.

The storm will end the snow drought, at least in part of the mid-Atlantic.

“So far this season, New York City has received a mere 0.2 of an inch of snow and Washington, D.C. has yet to see snowflakes,” Adamson said.

That story is likely to be dramatically different come Monday at least for Washington, D.C. and perhaps areas farther to the north. By the first few days of January, Washington, D.C., typically receives 1.9 inches of snow, with 3.9 inches in Philadelphia and 5.7 inches in New York City.

Forecasters are also keeping an eye on another storm that will present a risk of wintry weather to the Northeast from Thursday night into Friday. This potential system is still several days away, but AccuWeather meteorologists will continue to keep a close eye on it, even after the first snowmaker departs by Monday afternoon.


I have functioned as a Business and Media Consultant over the past sixteen years and spent many years developing my capacity to function in our ever evolving use of technology, communication, education and training.