California Storm Could Dump Snow on the Northeast if Jet Streams Collide

A storm that’s swinging into southern California could end up blanketing New York and the rest of the Northeast next weekend, ending Boston’s snow drought, tying up traffic and halting air travel.

That’s if everything comes together in just the right way, said Rob Carolan, owner of Hometown Forecast Services in Nashua, New Hampshire. Three major weather models are calling for a storm next weekend – the big question is whether it will be the white stuff or the wet stuff.

“If this thing comes together, it could affect the whole East Coast,” said Carolan, who provides forecasts for Bloomberg Radio. “It could be a foot-and-a-half of snow, it could be rain.”

While Washington and the rest of the mid-Atlantic broke snowfall records Sunday, and northern New England has been pummeled by storms this winter, Boston and New York haven’t had much. Washington got 8.3 inches (21 centimeters) Sunday, a record for the date.

New York hasn’t had a significant storm since getting 6.4 inches Nov. 15, according to the National Weather Service. Boston’s had less than a quarter-inch of snow so far, putting it 15.6 inches below normal. That may be about to change.

“Boston and New York could get caught up,” Carolan said.

The largest storms typically come when the two branches of the jet stream come together, he said. One branch brings Arctic cold south and the other brings moist tropical air north and they collide over the eastern U.S. Weather models from Europe, Canada and the U.S. all agree that’s what’s going to happen. They just don’t agree on whether it will be snow or rain.

“Sooner or later, it’s January, it’s cold,” Carolan said. “We’re going to get some things to come together.”