"Winter officially arrives Sunday, but no one seems to have mentioned that to winter," says OnTheSnow.com's RC Williams.
It's certainly not waiting for Sunday. Snow will be falling - sometimes prodigiously so - in the Northeast, Midwest, and Western regions this weekend. That's the good news. The flip side is icing and very cold temperatures are in store for some areas.
The system that dumped on the Midwest Thursday quickly moved into the Northeast region Friday, bringing snow and ice with it. Williams reports. Look for the heaviest concentration (up to one foot) in southern New York, northern Pennsylvania, and southern New England. South of the snow, rain and icing could present a problem for the lower parts of the region, including Pittsburgh. Hunter Mt., N.Y., was trumpeting late Friday afternoon that 12-16 inches of snow was landing on them.
Another system is waiting in the wings due to arrive Sunday as this one moves out. The new system is expected to bring very heavy snow from eastern New York across to Maine. Other areas in the region will most likely see a rain/snow mix.
"Back-to-back snowstorms this weekend should frost the cake for skiers and riders across New England, where resorts have been busting their chops to get ready for the Christmas vacation week, the traditional target for getting much of their terrain open," says OnTheSnow Associate Editor Roger Leo from his home base in Massachusetts.
"Timing is good for the vacation week, but not great for travelers hitting the roads at the beginning and end of this weekend. Once at the resorts, however, conditions should be the best of the season so far. Park the car and hit the slopes," Leo adds.
Williams says the Midwest is going to take another pounding with the system that arrived with up to a foot of snow in Chicago and Milwaukee by Friday. Storms will follow Saturday, Sunday and into early next week. Big snow dumps are in store for the Dakotas, Wisconsin, and Michigan. "It appears that the farther north you are, the more snow you get and, as you move south, the threat of icing looms large," he adds.
"This is the best start to winter that I can recall in the 30 years I've lived in northern Michigan, and it's that way all around the Great Lakes," says Mike Terrell, OnTheSnow.com's long-time Midwest Editor. "We have doubled our snowfall we had this time last season, and that was the best winter we'd had in a decade. Skiing and riding will be in mid-winter conditions over the holidays at most Midwest resorts, especially around the Great Lakes.
"The forecast is for the cold and snow to just keep coming. Thank you Santa, Old Man Winter, Mother Nature, and RC Williams. It's an awesome jumpstart to winter," Terrell said.
Western ski resorts continue to make out like bandits, Williams says, with more snow stretching from northern Montana to the Sierra Friday. Another system comes in right behind this one bringing even more snow to Oregon, Washington, and Northern California Saturday and Sunday. This weather pattern is set to stick around until at least mid week, but could stretch into Christmas day.
"This system makes its move inland Sunday and will deliver a punch to Western Washington, the Cascades, and the Sierra. Look for the winter weather to hang around through Tuesday, possibly longer," he adds.
OnTheSnow Associate Editor Jill Adler checked in from Park City with this report: "A cold and moist Pacific storm system has slammed into Utah and is expected to last through Saturday. The forecast calls for periods of heavy snow - 10 to 20 inches - and as a cold air mass moves across the Great Salt Lake, lake-effect snowfall is possible. Wind gusts in excess of 70 mph spun into the Wasatch Friday afternoon. Stay out of the backcountry this weekend."
Enjoy all the snow, but be careful behind the wheel.