06Z GFS forecast maps of 500 mb vorticity for the next ten days in 6-hour increments; map courtesy tropicaltidbits.com, NOAA/EMC
Today's soaking rain and thunderstorm activity in the Mid-Atlantic region appears to be just the opening round in what is looking like a very active weather pattern for much of the nation in the foreseeable future. The next ten days or so will feature wave-after-wave traveling across the country in a general west-to-east fashion and each one can produce snow over the Rockies, severe weather in the Deep South, and significant rain in the Mid-Atlantic region. In fact, its been somewhat dry in recent weeks in much of the south-central and eastern US and those are the regions that are most likely to get pounded with significant rainfall in this unfolding active weather pattern.
7-day precipitation totals for the US as predicted by NOAA forecasters with significant rainfall expected across much of the south-central and eastern US
The next ten days will feature numerous upper-level waves of energy traveling from the eastern Pacific Ocean all way across to the eastern US on a fairly regular basis averaging every few days or so. The air remains cold enough for significant snow to fall in the parts of the Rocky Mountains during this active pattern and ski resorts just to the west of Denver, Colorado, for example, are likely to have great skiing conditions right into the Easter holiday (mid-April this year). Meanwhile, the Deep South is likely to experience numerous severe weather events as the combination of strong energy in the upper atmosphere, cold air across the western US, and warmer-than-normal conditions in the Gulf of Mexico will likely help to generate severe thunderstorms and isolated tornadoes every few days over the next ten days or so. Today's severe weather threat will be mainly across the south-central US and as this wave travels to the east, the severe weather threat will trek to the east reaching the Southeast US in a few days.
Current drought monitor map for the US produced by NOAA's Climate Prediction Center with dry conditions over much of the south-central and eastern US
Here in the Mid-Atlantic region, a soaking rain event is taking place today with occasional downpours and the next event is already taking shape and likely to arrive here on Friday. The late week event is likely to become a significant rain producer for the Mid-Atlantic region with up to two inches possible in parts of the I-95 corridor from Friday into early Saturday. Beyond that, it appears the next wave in a series of waves will arrive here around Tuesday of next week and this too has the potential of resulting in some soaking rainfall for the Mid-Atlantic region.
Recent weeks have been relatively dry across much of the south-central and eastern US, but I don’t see this as part of an important long-term trend. In fact, these very regions are likely to get pounded with numerous important precipitation events over the next ten days or so in this unfolding active weather pattern and this will no doubt alleviate any budding drought conditions in many areas.
Meteorologist Paul Dorian