Meteorology is all about trends. Models are constantly updating and giving us more data to look at. We can't just take one model at it's face value, we have to examine the trends by taking in several runs of the models. So the latest trend has been taking next week's storm north and west.
This latest trend could still change. The track may shift more to the northwest or possibly back to the southeast (it likely wouldn't shift too far SE). The reason why has to do with the location of this storm *right now.* The energy associated with this system is still out in the Pacific Ocean.
This is important because the models take data from weather balloons that are launched on the mainland U.S. The better data will come once that energy comes onshore Sunday and we should have a pretty solid answer to next week's storm.
Here's the latest snowfall totals from the models as of Saturday night -
So the track is definitely not set in stone yet. There will be impacts, though, for travelers on Tuesday into early Wednesday as snow falls in the Upper Midwest.
The overarching trend of the weather lately has been... wintry! It's been colder than normal, snowier than normal... and a lot earlier than normal. The Midwest Regional Climate Center measures the winter using AWSSI (Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index)
Pretty much all of the Midwest (and the northern U.S.) is in the 'extreme' category. Here's how the AWSSI is calculated: "Daily scores are calculated based on scores assigned to temperature, snowfall, and snow depth thresholds. The daily scores are accumulated through the winter season, allowing a running total of winter severity in the midst of a season as well as a final, cumulative value characterizing the full season. Accumulations of the temperature and snow components of the index are computed separately and then added together for the total index. This allows comparison of the relative contribution of each to the total score."
This next storm will obviously add insult to injury on the already 'extreme' winter. We'll just have to wait to see exactly where the heaviest snow falls...