Published on Feb 27, 2014
After a brief reprieve from blockbuster winter storms in the Midwest and East -- and a much-too-lengthy reprieve in California -- Winter Storm Titan is poised to lay down a swath of heavy snow from California to New England, and, potentially, a swath of sleet and freezing rain from the Plains to the Mid-Atlantic States.
(MORE: The Science Behind Naming Winter Storms at The Weather Channel)
Two storm systems will cross the country in the coming days. The first is already bringing some rain to California; this system will weaken significantly as it crosses the Rockies Thursday night and should bring mainly light snow to the Midwest Friday and Friday night.
(MORE: Welcome Wet Weather in the West)
It's the second storm that will pack the bigger punch and has been named Winter Storm Titan. This system will bring heavy rain and mountain snow to drought-parched California on Friday before then marching east across the country. At the same time, a bitterly cold and unusually late-in-the-season arctic air mass will be burrowing southward into the northern half of the U.S.
(MORE: Bitterly Cold Finish to February)
Titan is expected to draw warm, moist air north from the Gulf of Mexico while extremely cold but shallow air flows south along the ground over the Midwest and Northeast. This is an ominous pattern -- one that has ice storm written all over it. At this early stage, days in advance of the storm, the main question is exactly where the biggest threat will be and how much ice might accumulate.
Heavy rain and mountain snow will redevelop across California Thursday night and Friday. Snow levels will be low enough for snow to reach major roadways over the Sierra Nevada. Farther south, snow in the higher mountains of Southern California will affect higher elevations such as Big Bear, but major interstates will just see rain.
For more on the storm's impact on the West Coast, see our story on the wet weather pattern there.
Snow will spread across much of the rest of the Intermountain West later Friday into Saturday. For the Northern Rockies, this will just be a continuation of snow from the previous, weaker disturbance. Widespread snow is likely across much of Montana and Wyoming, while farther south the snow will be more tied to higher elevations.
The main event east of the Rockies will unfold beginning Saturday as snow spreads east across portions of the Plains and Midwest. (See inset map for details.)
The more significant part of Winter Storm Titan will be Sunday into Monday, with precipitation becoming heavier. A stripe of significant ice accumulation is likely Sunday and Sunday night from the Ozarks through much of the Ohio Valley with snow farther north. These threats shift into the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast later Sunday into Monday.
There is a threat of significant, damaging ice accumulation Sunday across the Ohio Valley, and potentially parts of the mid-Mississippi Valley and Ozarks as well. It is too early to pinpoint the exact area that will be affected -- reasonable scenarios range from just north of the Ohio River to just south of the Ohio River. The ultimate location of any ice storm will depend on exactly how far south the sub-freezing air near the ground reache