The complex combination of synoptic- and mesoscale interactions topographic influences, and large population densities poses a multitude of challenging problems to winter weather forecasters throughout the eastern United States. Over the years, much has been learned about the structure, evolution, and attendant precipitation within winter storms. As a result, numerous operational procedures, forecast applications, and objective techniques have been developed at National Weather Service offices to assess the potential for hazardous winter weather.
An overview of the challenge of forecasting winter weather in the eastern United States is presented, including a historical review of several legendary winter storms, from the Blizzard of 1888 to the Halloween Nor'easter of 1991. The synoptic-scale features associated with East Coast winter storms are described. The mesoscale nature of many eastern winter weather events is illustrated through an examination of the Veterans' Day Snowstorm of 11 November 1987, and the Long Island Snowstorm of 13 December 1988. The development of applied forecast techniques and the potential for new remote sensing technologies (e.g., Doppler weather radar and wind profilers) and mesoscale models to improve operational forecasts of winter weather hazards are also discussed. Companion papers focus on cyclogenesis, terrain-related winter weather forecast considerations in the Southeast, and lake effect snow forecasting.