Christmas Eve looks perfect for last minute shopping. No snowstorms to get in our way, yet. Highs should range from the upper 40's to mid 50's along the coastal plain with a nice warming downslope wind off the mountains. Evening temperatures should be nice and mild in the 40's with midnight mass temperatures around 40-45 with dry conditions. Santa will have no trouble contending the weather this year in SNE, as it will be a dry night and dry morning on the 25th. Storm clouds do not move in until about 12-2PM on Christmas Day. At this point, it may be snowing from northern Mississippi to Tennessee to Kentucky. Not good news for us as the storm will be forming and strengthening, but looks to go far enough inland for a mild rainstorm once again for most of the East Coast on Monday night into Tuesday.
There are 3 major possible scenarios and tracks for this first considerable winter storm to take.
TRACK ONE: This is the track furthest west, west of the Apps. I will say right out that this track, ATTM, does not look likely, but has some support from the models. A track like this would mean bad news for major cities like Nashville, TN; Cincinnatti; Indianapolis; Detroit; and perhaps as far west as Chicago. Northern Mississippi and Alabama could see some snow as well as NE Arkansas seeing a healthy dose of snow. This track is only if the two streams, northern and southern, phase very early in the storm's development and rocket it up west of the Apps. In the cities mentioned above, easily 6"+ of heavy snow would be likely. Something to watch.
TRACK TWO: Track two is also a very exciting track as well. Track two brings the storm up from the NW Gulf of Mexico, amped with tons of Gulf moisture and tracks it along the Apps. Good news for the Smokey's in TN; Apps from NC to WV; snow would also be falling from the Tennessee Valley through the Ohio Valley through Michigan and central and western PA and upstate NY with healthy snows again probably in the 6-10" category for the cities to a foot plus along the mountains. A track up the Apps usually means an energy transfer from the initial storm to a storm redeveloping along the Atlantic coast. This looks like what would happen. The primary storm would then become entrenched of the Delmarva and rocket up the Hudson Valley. This track could change rain to snow in eastern PA and even NYC's NW suburbs. This will enhance the snow in the western NY area, namely Syracuse, Utica, ect; with enhanced snowfall totals surpassing 12 inches likely. Northern New England would also eventually get into the act with several inches of snow on the backside as well. You know those lucky mountain in northern VT, and NH, and ME that would benefit with the downsloping snows from the backside of a powerhouse 985ish type storm with strong winds. Ski resorts here could easily see 10-20 inches of snow.
TRACK THREE: Track three is a track that has about a 30-40 percent chance of panning out. This track would involve a much weaker storm that would kind of just stay progressive and jut out off the Virgina coast and skirt to the south of the Cape and Islands. This "weaker" storm" would limit the amount of places affected by this storm, but would ensure a decent swath of a 2-4" or 3-6" snow from central-eastern PA; NW of NYC; into much of SNE. We would not see powerhouse numbers, but if this storm were a little stronger than forecasted, somebody would likely wind up with a solid 6"+.
As you can tell, there is much going on and I am going to put the BOTTOM LINE on this storm right now. There will be a moderate to major winter storm...Category 3 or 4...early next week and places will get decent snowfall with a moisture loaded system. Where it tracks and how strong it is, is yet to be seen. By Sunday, I would guess that all the models will start to fall into place and we will have a better idea of what to expect with this potential monster of a storm.
I know I am praying for Track Three!