Winter Storm To Hit Great Lakes (USA/Canada)

After a relatively mild and snow-free winter season, most of the Great Lakes region will be hit hard on Sunday by a developing combination of 4-8 inches of snow from a frontal system and 10 to 20 inches from strong west to northwest winds sweeping across the open waters of the Great Lakes.

It had begun to turn cold earlier this week, but is currently about 2 to 4 C, near normal for the region in January. By late Sunday it will be -20 C in northern regions and -10 C across the lower lakes (Erie and Ontario) with a further slide to come on Monday, ending up near record cold values by Tuesday. Ottawa, further from the warming effects of the lakes, could be below -30 C by then.

This cold air will not be confined to the Great Lakes region but will push south to cover most of the eastern U.S., bringing temperatures down from 5-10 C (40s F) to -10 C (14 F) in the larger cities along the eastern seaboard.  Only small amounts of snow will accompany the plunge into cold air along the east coast.

President Obama, who will be sworn in on Sunday in the White House, then again in a public ceremony outdoors on Monday, can expect strong northwest winds and bone-chilling temperatures in the -5 C range. His 2009 inauguration day was also quite a cold one.

 The cold air may eventually lead to frost or freeze warnings in north-central Florida and bring some damage to the citrus crop. The severe cold is expected to last for most of January, but our forecast calls for much milder weather to return in mid-February to these regions.

Analysis from TMT Senior Forecaster Peter O'Donnell.