A rather strong winter storm is expected to impact the eastern United States this weekend, specifically late Sunday into Monday for southeast Ohio.
This system has been looming over the weather community for about a week as they’ve struggled to come up with an accurate forecast. However, the storm's path has become more clear as it gets closer. It’s looking likely that the Athens area will see its first big snowfall of the season.
A cold air mass has settled over the Ohio Valley region, which will feed into the approaching complex system. An Alberta Clipper system will come out of Canada and progress across the Plains and Midwest. The clipper will merge with another upper level feature to form a low pressure system that will scoop below Ohio, which is where the uncertainty with this system begins.
Once the system reaches the Mid Atlantic region, it will begin to swing towards the Northeast. The exact track the system will take is still being questioned and will be the difference between a dusting and several inches of snow. Despite the uncertainty, a likely path and its impacts are beginning to develop.
The most likely path has the system following along the Appalachian Mountains, which would give Athens between four inches and seven inches of snow by Monday afternoon. Fortunately, the cold air will allow the precipitation to maintain as snow, except for brief sleet ahead of the snow.
If the system shifts further to the West, accumulation will increase and potentially introduce icing to the mix. If the system shifts further to the East, accumulation will decrease.
As of Friday, most of southeast Ohio, including Athens County, is under a Winter Storm Watch from Sunday, Jan. 16, at 10 a.m. to Monday, Jan. 17, at 10 a.m..
While these numbers will be flexible up until the first snowflake, expect snow this weekend in Athens, which could cause driving hazards Monday morning, power outages and school closings/delays.
This forecast still has some uncertainty as the storm is still over two days away. Follow Scalia Lab on social media for the latest updates.