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Stalled Cold Front Spotted from Space

Stalled cold front over the Eastern United States
The GOES satellite captured the stalled cold front causing wintry weather in the Eastern United States. (Image credit: NOAA)

A cold front sweeping across the United States stalled out over the East Coast today (Jan. 17), causing flash floods in the Southeast and bringing heavy snows to the North.

The GOES satellite snapped the stagnant system yesterday as it draped across the eastern states.

The mass of cold air is dropping snow across the southern Appalachians and into parts of Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, reported. Flash floods are hitting parts of eastern Tennessee and the Carolinas.

The heavy rains and snow result from the brutal trough interacting with a ridge of high pressure centered over Bermuda, climatologist Jeff Weber told OurAmazingPlanet in an email interview.

The stalled front finally will be pushed farther east by a new blast of Arctic air  expected early next week, said Weber, a scientist with the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, in Boulder, Colo. This could bring freezing temperatures to areas as far south as northern Georgia by Jan. 22.

The system sitting over the East Coast was produced by an extreme southward dip in the jet stream, which allowed cold air to travel south into California earlier this week. After setting a record daily low in Los Angeles on Jan. 14, the air mass marched across the country, settling in for a predicted week of havoc in the East.

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Becky Oskin
Becky Oskin
Becky Oskin covers Earth science, climate change and space, as well as general science topics. Becky was a science reporter at Live Science and The Pasadena Star-News; she has freelanced for New Scientist and the American Institute of Physics. She earned a master's degree in geology from Caltech, a bachelor's degree from Washington State University, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz.