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Cold and dry overnight, several inches of snow Thursday

Posted by David Epstein  December 31, 2013 05:30 PM

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Enough of the new data is in for me to have a better handle on the storm for Thursday and Friday. This won't be a blockbuster event, far from it, but a moderate one. Because the accumulation will happen slowly, over a long period of time, it will make dealing with the snow quite easy. I'll be updating blogs right through the storm, so check back often and of course, follow me on Twitter @growingwisdom.com

The core of the cold arctic air is to our north and as such, we are on the southern edge. It's cold, but not bitter this evening. As long as the winds stay light, it won't feel too badly out there.
surface map.jpg

Late this afternoon there will be some snow showers moving across Worcester County and if they hold together, you could see a flurry in Boston. Any snow showers will end early in the evening. Temperatures won't fall very quickly and by midnight Boston will be around 19 or 20F. Winds are light early in the evening, but increase towards and after midnight. This will make it feel very cold walking around the city, especially around some of the buildings where the wind can really whip up.
wind midnight.jpg

Wednesday, day one of 2014, is typically cold for early January, but not bitter Highs in are back into the middle and even upper 20s, but forget seeing the freezing mark.

Clouds increase Wednesday night early and snow develops by Thursday morning. The snow continues at various rates through Friday morning before ending early that day.

How big is this storm?
My current thinking is this will be a moderate snowstorm, not major and certainly not crippling. The most likely places for the highest snow totals will be along the coastline and over Cape Cod and the Islands. The storm is forecast to be a more progressive one meaning it won't turn into a bomb of a storm .
storm position.jpg

Snow or rain?
This is the easy part of the forecast, it's all snow for nearly everyone and a light and fluffy snow as well. Even on Cape Cod, where the snow starts on the wetter side, it's going to be trending lighter and fluffier for Thursday night and early Friday. There could be some rain mixed in for Nantucket and parts of Martha's Vineyard at the start.

What about coastal flooding?
Throughout each month the height of the high tide changes. You have no doubt noticed in the summer, the seaweed line of the previous day's high tide isn't always the same. Sometimes the high water mark can vary three feet or more over a given month. The high tide Friday at noon is over 12 feet, nearly 3 feet higher than the one today. If the storm did become very intense, flooding would be an issue. I expect the main issue with the storm to be some beach erosion or minor splash over during high tide.

When does the snow start?
There will be two pieces of energy that produce our snow. The first arrives late Wednesday night and leaves up to 3 inches by early Thursday. During the day Thursday a bit more can could fall, but it won't snow all day and at times it may actually just be cloudy. Then another batch of snow moves in Thursday evening and ends early Friday.

How much snow?
I am thinking a moderate storm for Boston and areas south and east of that line. Well north and west of route 495, the chances of this being a light snowstorm increase. Over Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and the Islands the storm will linger longer and amounts should be at the higher end of my prediction.

Boston will likely exceed 6 inches of snow with a few spots seeing some ocean enhancement and higher amounts. The least amount of snow with this storm will fall over far northern and western areas of the southern New England. The snow over Nantucket might be mixed with a bit of rain and also be wetter, this would put them on the lower end of my range or even just under it.
Snow totals predicted.jpg

When I look at making snowfall predictions I look at how much moisture the storm is expected to bring. Then I have to think about the weight of the snow coming from the moisture. A storm with say one inch of liquid moisture could leave 10 inches of snow if it's 32 degrees and nearly 20 inches if it's 16 degrees. We are going to be closer to the 16F degree reading so it won't take as much moisture to give us over 6 inches of snow.


Could this miss us or be bigger?
The models are tending to agree this isn't a big storm. My biggest worry is the storm is even lighter than I am predicting. I'll revise things up or down based on the next full computer run overnight. On Wednesday, I'll be able to fine tune amounts further.

I have a flight out of Logan should I change it?
I have gotten many questions about travel Thursday and Friday. Flights will likely be close to normal early Thursday. Many airlines hate having planes stuck here. So sometimes they cancel well before the actual storm. If you want to be 100% safe, avoid travel the second part of Thursday and early Friday. I don't see this being a storm shutting down Logan airport for a day or anything remotely like that. In the end, this appears to be more of a delay of flights kind of storm, not cancellations.

What about the roads?
After the crazy commute a couple of weeks ago, no one wants to be stuck on the roads trying to get home. As it looks now, the Thursday morning commute impacted a bit, the evening commute will depend on how well roads have been cleared and how much snow falls during the day. Coastal areas will likely see the most snow. The Friday morning commute will depend on the final totals and end times. I expect roads will be snowy and it will be very cold Friday.

School cancellations?
Based on the current timing of the storm, we could see cancellations or delays both Thursday and Friday. However, there won't be a lot of snow falling each hour. Whatever snow we see falls over 24 hours and roads crews should be able to keep up with the rate of accumulation much easier than those storms where it all falls in a short period of time.

I was thinking of buying a cow so we have fresh milk.
This isn't that kind of storm, buy normal amounts of food. You can go to the supermarket Thursday morning or Friday afternoon.

When will you know more?
There are two major computer runs each day the American models come in first then the European . I get significant new information from each around 10PM and 2AM and again at 10AM and 2PM. This means the forecast can dramatically change twice each day. I usually won't update the forecast significantly until I see both models. I will have a another update this evening, but a more major update early New Year's Day.

That's my latest thinking on the storm. An important update this afternoon and I will be tweeting other thoughts about the storm on Twitter @growingwisdom

Indoor Flowers You Can Grow Easily
Indoor flowers are a great way to chase away some of those winter doldrums. Check out this week's video on these wonderful indoor bulbs known as amaryllis.

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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