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Active Weather | Spring vs. Winter

Severe weather risk, heavy rain, snow for East with new low

Caroline Floyd

Monday, April 2, 2018, 10:01 - Spring storms will be the name of the game as we move through the first week of April - although some of them will look decidedly more wintry than spring-like.

On the heels of the clipper bringing heavy snow to New York City on Monday morning, a more significant system pushed out into the central Plains Monday afternoon and drag everything from blizzard conditions to severe thunderstorms with it as it heads for the Atlantic coast. We take a look at when you'll need to prepare for April showers (of rain or snow) below.

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Weather highlights:

  • Colorado low develops in central Plains overnight Monday into Tuesday
  • Blizzard conditions possible northern Plains, Upper Midwest Monday night through Tuesday night
  • Rain, freezing rain push into Ohio Valley, Northeast ahead of system through Tuesday
  • Risk of severe storms with cold front from southern Plains to Southeast starting Monday afternoon
  • Significant risk of severe storms Tuesday from Ohio Valley to Mid-Mississippi Valley; large hail, wind damage likely, tornadoes possible

Watch below: Timing the Colorado low

Monday system clips Northeast with brief, heavy snowfall

A quick-moving clipper system brought snowfall rates of 2 inches per hour to New York City on Monday morning, as heavy snow hammered parts of the Mid-Atlantic and southern New England. Before 9 a.m., Central Park had already seen its snowiest April day since 1982, with a fresh 4.8 inches of snowfall - and more on the way. Winter weather advisories were posted from eastern Pennsylvania through western Connecticut as the quick blast of snow looks to dump 6 to 8 inches - locally higher - on the region before pulling offshore Monday afternoon.

(Related: Tips for turning a long weekend into a real vacation)

Colorado low = more snow 

Monday's speedy storm is just a taste of things to come, as a larger Colorado low looms on the horizon for this first week of April.

Forecast to roll out of the Rockies starting on Monday, this system is expected to sweep the northern and central Plains with a broad area of snow, freezing rain, and sleet. At the same time, gusty winds will make for reduced visibility and potentially blizzard conditions as winds strengthen over the northern Plains and Upper Midwest into Tuesday.

Out ahead of the system, we're watching for rain - and possibly some freezing rain - to work their way up into the Midwest and Northeast through the day on Tuesday, fueled by the broad, mild flow out of the south. As the cold front butts into that mild flow, we stand to see thunderstorms spring up Tuesday afternoon from central Texas through the Mid-Mississippi Valley and into the Ohio Valley by evening.

Severe storms spark on Tuesday

With the low now looking to take a faster track across the Midwest, forecasters are looking at an increased risk for severe storms on Tuesday from the Ohio Valley to the Lower and Mid-Mississippi Valley.

The main threat with these storms looks to be large hail and damaging winds - particularly over the Ohio Valley - but isolated tornadoes cannot be ruled out. Watch for these storms to fire up quickly through mid-Tuesday afternoon for the Mid-Mississippi Valley and Ohio Valley, racing eastward to the Appalachians through the evening.

Rain for the Eastern Seaboard, with a quick shot of snow?

This faster forecast track for the system suggests it will also charge further north through the Great Lakes. This is good news for New York, Pennsylvania, and New England, as that means more advection of warm air over the region and, in return, the risk for snow and freezing rain largely retreat into Canada. The Midwest, on the other hand, stands to see some strong winds from the north on Wednesday, making for some additional wrap-around snowfall and poor visibility.

That said, a quick shot of snow for the Adirondacks, Green Mountains, and northern Appalachians is certainly possible as cold air seeps down later on Wednesday, on the back edge of the cold front. We may also be dealing with lake-effect snows in the system's wake by midweek - stay tuned for more on that as this system develops.

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