Weather and Natural Disasters

Wild weather: Record cold, snow for central, eastern U.S.; Pineapple Express to soak West

Doyle Rice

T.S. Eliot wrote "April is the cruelest month" and that's certainly proving true for winter-weary folks across the northern U.S., as more waves of bitter cold and heavy snow are in the forecast over the next several days.

Meanwhile, an atmospheric river — aka the Pineapple Express — will pay a visit to the West Coast this weekend, bringing the threat of heavy rain, flooding and potentially record warm temperatures.

More from USA Today:
Teen turns down plea deal for 25 years in prison, gets 65 years instead
Inside the Mexican vacation complex where an Iowa family died
Jay-Z talks cheating: Beyonce knew 'I'm not the worst of what I've done'

Record cold is possible this weekend all the way from Montana to Wisconsin and as far south as Oklahoma, with temperatures more typical of late January than early April.

Weather Channel meteorologist Michael Palmer called it a "ridiculous late season arctic outbreak," warning that a hard freeze is possible all the way into the Deep South.

The National Weather Service said high temperatures in the northern and central Plains along with the Upper Mississippi Valley will be nearly 30 degrees below normal Friday. The colder air will flow into areas from New England to the southern Plains by Saturday — with high temperatures ranging from 10 to 20 degrees below normal.

Below-zero wind chills will add to the weather misery. While unpleasant for humans, the intense cold is risky for baby animals.

In Montana, the weather service issued a "cold advisory for newborn livestock," (livestock that are less than 24 hours old) because "these animals are least able to regulate their body temperature and therefore most susceptible to the cold."

Ryan Maue tweet

Snow will also continue to make unwelcome appearances: A two-day snowstorm will wreak travel havoc in at least 20 states from Montana to Massachusetts on Friday and Saturday. On Friday, snow will fly across the northern Rockies, northern Plains and Midwest.

On Saturday, a swath of heavy snow is likely to spread from the mountains of West Virginia, western Maryland and northwestern Virginia to the upper mid-Atlantic coast and southern New England, AccuWeather said.

If an inch of snow falls in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, that would be the biggest April snowfall there in almost 100 years.

Airline delays and flight cancellations related to deicing operations and poor visibility are likely at the major hubs from Cincinnati and Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City and Boston, AccuWeather said.

Yet another snowstorm will wallop the northern Plains and Upper Midwest on Sunday. In Minneapolis, where 8-10 inches is possible, the Twins baseball game Sunday will likely be snowed out.

Pineapple Express heads for California

The West will endure weather misery of a different kind: Heavy rain that could lead to floods. In portions of northern California, "flooding is a concern from Friday through Sunday," the weather service warned.

In areas burned by recent wildfires, mudslides and debris flows will be a concern, AccuWeather said.

There is an upside to the rain. "Despite the threat for flash flooding and mudslides, this rain will help to further fill area reservoirs prior to the dry season this summer," AccuWeather meteorologist Brett Rathbun said.

Temperatures will also be rather mild, with some record warm nights possible, meteorologist Ryan Maue of said.

Made visible by clouds, these ribbons of water vapor known as atmospheric rivers extend thousands of miles from the tropics to the western U.S. This one originates near Hawaii, thus it's nicknamed the Pineapple Express.

NWS Eureka