Even though spring officially starts this week, much of the Midwest and New England is in the grip of another winter storm.
The gale, dubbed Winter Storm Ukko by the Weather Channel, has already been blasting Wisconsin, North Dakota and other parts of the Midwest with snow and wind and will be turning its freezing gaze to the Northeast tonight. Areas from New England to Washington, D.C., should see freezing rain or snow Monday evening, likely lasting into Tuesday.
The National Weather Service has issued winter storm warnings from Maine to Connecticut. Parts of Maine could see up to 14 inches of snow; Southern New England and upstate New York could get up to 8 inches; parts of Pennsylvania could see up to 5 inches, with significant ice accumulations as well, according to the NWS.
“The trickier forecast is for the Boston metro area,” TWC meteorologists said Monday. “If the initial cold air is slower to retreat, snowfall accumulations may be greater than currently forecasted.”
If cities south of New England like New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., do experience snow, it’ll likely taper off into rain, which should prevent too much slush from accumulating, TWC said.
Bottom line: Travel conditions are going to be difficult for much of the Northeast on Tuesday morning.
Thankfully, Ukko is coming in when the moon is neither full nor new, so tides will not be especially high, thereby reducing the risk for storm-related coastal erosion. Full moons and new moons amplify tides thanks to the alignment of Earth, Sun and Moon, which compounds the gravitational tug of the Sun and Moon on Earth.
The name bestowed on the storm by TWC is shared with the god of sky and weather in Finnish mythology, who, like the Norse counterpart Thor, wielded a hammer (or axe, in some stories) that could strike lightning.
It has been a rip-roaring March thus far, though none of the storms have matched the fury of an early February storm that TWC dubbed Winter Storm Nemo, which buried parts of the Northeast in several feet of snow and caused more than $100 million in damage. Globally, last month was the ninth-warmest February on record since 1880, according to the National Climatic Data Center.
The Weather Channel made the decision to start naming winter storms at the start of this past winter season, citing a desire to increase public awareness of storms, especially for public safety reasons. This year's list, primarily composed of Greek and Latin names, runs from Athena to Zeus.
Thus far, the NWS has declined to adopt TWC's naming convention. In an internal memo sent around in November, the NWS reminded employees not to refer to storms by names. The agency has stopped short of offering an opinion on the virtues of naming winter storms but notes that these types of weather systems are very different from hurricanes.