As colder air begins to push into the eastern United States, a brief episode of gusty downpours is forecast to roll through areas from North Carolina to Pennsylvania Wednesday night.

The storms will organize over the mountains of western Virginia, the panhandles of Maryland and West Virginia and south-central Pennsylvania late Wednesday afternoon to early Wednesday evening then advance eastward.

“The pattern may behave like a mini-squall line,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dave Dombek said of the setup Wednesday night.

A squall line is a solid line of thunderstorms.

Winds can be strong enough to break weak tree limbs and even knock over a few poorly rooted trees or those which sit in saturated soil.

Anytime winds are strong enough to toss trees limbs around in rough fashion, there can be sporadic power outages.

A potentially more disruptive trait of the storms for more people will be sudden downpours that can blind motorists, catch pedestrians off guard and even result in brief flooding of streets and highways.


“It will be a little weird in that there may not be a great deal of thunder and lightning with the storms, but they can bring brief strong wind gusts and torrential downpours,” Dombek added.

The storms are expected to roll through the Interstate-95 corridor of northern North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland after dark. This includes cities such as Richmond, Virginia; Washington, D.C.; Baltimore, Maryland; and Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Heavy, gusty storms may survive well into the night in easternmost Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and southeastern New York state.

The same conditions can hit areas in southern and eastern New England during Thursday morning.

Thunderstorms in the Northeast during February, while uncommon, occasionally occur when there is a strong or strengthening storm system nearby.

The locally violent weather conditions are forecast to occur in the warm sector of a strengthening storm system that will push across the interior Northeast Wednesday night and then southeastern Canada on Thursday.

The storm’s colder side will produce heavy snow in parts of the Midwest, the northern tier of the Northeast and adjacent Canada. Some of the heaviest lake-effect snow of the season will occur in the wake of the storm across upstate New York.

The storm will not produce snow in the mid-Atlantic and southeastern part of New England, but forecasters say a significant drop in temperature is coming as colder air makes its way through coastal areas. Temperatures will be slashed by 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit from the middle of the week to the end of the week.

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