May snowstorm 2020: Historic weather could hit Northeast

In addition to snow, 75 million people will wake up to below freezing temperatures Saturday. For many cities it will be colder than it was on Christmas Day.

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By Kathryn Prociv

A May snowstorm is in the making for this weekend, and it could bring historic snow totals to parts of the interior Northeast and New England.

On Friday, a storm system moving into the Northeast will clash with bitter cold Arctic air courtesy of the polar vortex, bringing the potential for heavy, wet snow to the region. Heavy rain is possible along the I-95 corridor.

"The unusually cold air mass from eastern Canada will be pulled southward down into the eastern U.S. behind the storm, resulting in widespread record low temperatures spanning as far south as Alabama and Mississippi on Saturday," the National Weather Service said in a forecast discussion.

Widespread snowfall totals will range from a dusting to 6-8 inches in some spots, while isolated areas in extreme northern New England could see up to a foot. If this happens, it will shatter May snowfall records. Some cities that could see snow include Syracuse, Rochester, Binghamton, Albany in New York; Scranton, Pennsylvania; and Burlington, Vermont.

In addition to the rain and snow, it will be very windy with gusts over 40 mph across the entire Northeast region and Eastern Seaboard. Snow, rain showers and gusty winds will continue for the Northeast and New England through Saturday.

About 64 million people are under freeze watches and warnings from the Upper Midwest to the Appalachians, from the Northeast to New England. These will likely expand in coverage and population as the storm develops.

"There is a slight risk of severe thunderstorms and excessive rainfall over parts of the Southern Plains," the weather service said.

The cold air that will be responsible for the snow in the Northeast and New England will be record-shattering. More than 50 record lows could be set or tied after Saturday and Sunday. Highs and lows will be 10-20 degrees below average this weekend, with that cold air stretching all the way into the Deep South.

Snow was possible in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania on Friday. And on Thursday, federal forecasters said snow was possible in New York City.

In Boston, forecasters are expecting the wind chill factor on Saturday to drop temperatures down to the 30s.

By Saturday morning, 75 million people will wake up to temperatures below freezing. Wind chills in the Northeast will be in the 20s and 30s, and for many cities, it will be colder on Saturday than it was on Christmas Day. Cities that could set record lows over the weekend include: New York and Buffalo; Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee; Baltimore; Detroit; Pittsburgh; Charlotte, North Carolina; Little Rock, Arkansas; Montgomery, Alabama; and Shreveport, Louisiana.

The last time New York City dipped into the 30s in May was 1978.

Dennis Romero contributed.