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Near blizzard conditions with 1 to 2 feet of snow Friday night

Posted by David Epstein  February 6, 2013 03:30 PM

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There is little doubt that a major snowstorm is going to affect much of southern and central New England Friday into Saturday. A blizzard watch is now in effect for much of eastern Massachusetts. You can see this area highlighted in green on this map. blizzard watch.png Some light snow will begin as early as Friday morning, but the bulk of the storm will be overnight Friday and into Saturday morning. Strong winds will blow the snow into drifts and along the coast, especially from Boston south, rain will mix in with the snow. The exact position of the rain-snow line is still somewhat questionable and this will ultimately determine how much snow the south shore and Cape Cod receive. This is going to be a big storm, now we just have to figure out is it top 10 big or just big for the past few winters. For this storm to reach top 10 status Boston would need to have 18.3" of snow. That volume of snow did fall just after Christmas in 2010. Blizzard of 2013.png All of this, including the timing of the snow, is subject to refinement later this evening and Thursday, but the theme here is prepare for a classic snowstorm. Once the snow starts it will increase in intensity during the afternoon Friday as is overspreads much of the area. The heaviest snow will fall from about 9 PM Friday until 9 AM Saturday. I'll be updating the forecast on Twitter at @growingwisdom and check out my latest garden videos at GrowingWisdom.com

Timing
Our weather remains dry and cold through Friday morning. Tomorrow will be a typical mid-winter day with sunshine and temperatures in the 20s. You will notice some increase in clouds tomorrow afternoon and the first signs of the storm arrive. Friday mornings commute will actually occur under cloudy skies. I expect with all this coverage many folks to stay home. I can't see schools being cancelled at this time, but the exact start time of the snow could change. Right now first flakes should begin in the late morning or early afternoon and by dark expect 1 to 3 inches of snow on the ground.

The storm really intensifies Friday night through Saturday morning. This is when travel will become virtually impossible and any power outages that are going to occur will happen. By Saturday afternoon the snow will taper to flurries and we could see a few breaks of sunshine before the sun goes down around 5 PM Saturday evening.

The coast
Wind and coastal flooding will also be an issue as the storm increases in intensity. We will watch the tides carefully as the nor'easter moves up along the coastline through the night. I believe the most intense part of the storm will be over during Saturday morning as the storm begins to move away. This will be about a 12 to 18 hour period of intense snow, with lighter snow before and after the core of the storm. The high tide around 9 PM will be the one where coastal communities are most vulnerable. The next high tide after that is astronomically high, and the exact position of the storm will be critical in how much if any coastal damage occurs around 10 AM Saturday morning. If the storm moves slowly, we could see more damage Saturday morning than Friday night along the coast.

Accumulations from this storm should exceed 12 inches north of Plymouth, Massachusetts, but rain and sleet could be an issue along the immediate coast for a time. We won't know the exact rain-snow line situation until tomorrow. Boston and surrounding areas, especially along the north shore, could end up seeing the most snow and there is growing confidence for a foot or more of snow. For coastal areas to get a foot of snow, rain can't mix in for too long as that cuts down on final amounts. While the storm is still two days away, consensus is increasing that we are going be hit and the chance this is going out to sea is minimal. The ultimate track of the storm could end up even giving Cape Cod over 6 inches of snow even with the mix or change to rain. Winds along the coast could be strong enough for some power outages, but I don't expect that to be a major issue. Here is an early look at amounts to give you an idea of what may happen Friday. This map can change quite dramatically as new data arrives.
Blizzard of 2013 surface map.png
That new data will arrive about every 6 hours during today and this will help me further hone the specifics of the storm. The last major snowstorm Boston received was back in January of 2011. This actually isn't that unusual to have a gap of a year or two between major storms.

The next 24 hours will be critical in nailing down the final details of this storm. This continues to look like a major, bordering on historic storm. All that said, by Saturday night and Sunday most roads will be cleared. As is the case in nearly all storms we get, there is no need to stock up on unnecessary amounts of food or other supplies. Plan on a full weekend of not shopping, but know that Sunday you will most likely be able to get out for anything you need. Be smart, but don't let the coverage panic you into over preparing. This is the first snowstorm in two years and big one, you should expect even more media coverage than usual. I will be providing information to you as it becomes available to me. Again, details will change so come back often.
Gardening this week
This week I wanted to share a video that shows a very unique water garden. This particular water garden contains many different varieties of fish. While you might not have the space for something this elaborate, you can mimic some of the elements on a smaller scale.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this blog or any others. Please follow me on Twitter at @growingwisdom and check out my latest videos at GrowingWisdom.com

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

David Epstein has been a professional meteorologist and horticulturalist for three decades. David spent 16 years at WCVB in Boston and currently freelances for WGME in Portland, ME. In 2006, More »
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