The forecast is pretty lackluster for the rest of this week as 2018 is off to a frigid start. Bitter cold air remains the main feature and we should see sunshine dominate most of the state today through the start of the weekend. Temperatures will average a good 10-20 degrees below normal at times through the period. We expect subzero temps each of the next several nights/mornings over parts of Ohio north of I-70, and easily single digit readings for overnight lows in the south. Strong north and northwest winds will be funneling this cold air into Ohio and that can produce lake effect snows through the next few days. Today that action is limited to far northeast parts of the state, particularly Ashtabula County, and then later tomorrow and Thursday we can see that spread a bit along the south shores of the Lake, particularly north central along with northeast. WE can see some clouds from this push down close to US 30, but in general, lake snows will stay north of US 20 in north central Ohio, and I-80 in northeast Ohio.
South winds start to develop Saturday night of our next front and storm system. These winds will help moderate temperatures some, but we stay mostly below freezing right on through Sunday. A powerful low comes out of the central to southern plains next weekend and we start to see precipitation push into western and southwestern Ohio next Sunday night. The cold air in place means precipitation will start as snow. But, as strong south winds continue to come up ahead of the actual cold front, precipitation changes over to rain in southwest Ohio by 4 to 5 a.m. Monday morning. We could see some heavier rains or even a rumble of thunder through Monday morning in those areas. Waking up Monday in northwest Ohio, we can see a sloppy mix continue through the day as the low pressure center tracks over Indiana, and in eastern parts of the state we could see some significant snows through the noon hour before an attempt at a wintry mix develops. Eventually, strong north winds will return and bring back arctic air behind the front late Monday overnight and into early Tuesday. However, moisture may be significantly decreased by then, meaning the ending snows may be minor, but could blow substantially through the first half of Tuesday. This is our initial look at this system in terms of laying it out to you chronologically. There is plenty of time for things to change, and timing will be one of those variables. Also, there is a large amount of moisture with this system. We can see liquid equivalent precipitation totals of half to 1”. The map above shows liquid equivalent precipitation totals over the entire potential duration of the event. This has the potential to be a mess! So, track here is very, very important. The current track has a large amount of rain with it. If the low stays a little farther south and east, we could be looking at a lot more snow, and very little rain. Or, if it tracks farther north and west, over IL and into MI let’s say, they we could be looking at more or even all rain! So, the one thing for certain is that we have a massive winter storm headed toward us to finish the weekend and start next week, and there is plenty of moisture with it. But…it all comes down to the track as to what type of precipitation we see, and who gets the worst. We will be watching this storm closely the rest of the week, and will have updates all the way through.
Behind the system, we have another bitter cold week on the way then next week. Temps pull back to below normal levels, and may try and rival this week, although we think next week may end up being just slightly better. In the extended 11-16 day forecast window, we have dry weather continuing through the 13th, but then another front is on the way for the 14th, which can bring another chance of significant snows just ahead of mid-month. Our quick look at week 3 and week 4 suggests that we see below normal temps through most of the balance of January.