A potent winter storm system has entered the Western U.S., bringing snow from the mountains of the Pacific Northwest to the Colorado Rockies and from the Four Corners region to the Northern Plains. Triggered by a deep atmospheric trough (a broad dip in the jet stream), the system's leading edge will also ignite thunderstorms across the Great Plains.
Over the next few days, the storm will slowly progress to the Great Lakes and Northeast and its trailing cold front is expected to produce tornadic thunderstorms along the northern Gulf Coast. On the other hand, it will also bring much needed rains to the Southeastern U.S., offering some relief to the drought-plagued areas of Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas.
We can only hope that this shift in the weather pattern persists through the winter, augmenting the Western snowpack and putting an end to the Southeastern drought. If the current atmospheric ridge over the the eastern Pacific remains in place, that scenario could unfold, benefitting most regions of the country.