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A very cold night on the way, turning stormy Thursday

Posted by David Epstein  February 11, 2014 04:12 PM

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As I look at the new model information this evening the trend is for the warmer air to move west of Boston during the storm and change the snow to rain as far as perhaps Worcester. This isn't a sure bet yet. There is still going to be a lot of cold air as the storm begins and ocean temperatures are close to their lowest levels of the season. This means the wind off the water won't have the same power it does in December. None the less, there is high likelihood if you live in Boston there will be less snow on the ground Friday morning than there will be tomorrow morning if from nothing more than the compaction due to the heavy rain. The rest of my blog from earlier today is below. I will do another update later this evening. There is a winter storm watch for areas in blue on the map below. Those areas are the ones most likely to see 6 inches of snow. The further west into the watch area the more likely up to a foot of snow is possible.
wsw2.png
MA snow and rain thursday.png

Have you said "uncle" yet to Mother Nature? If you have haven't, this next storm might just put you over the edge. As I was letting the dogs out this morning, at 6°F, I actually screamed "I am over winter." I wonder if the neighbors heard me.

Average highs this time of the year are often in the upper 30s to around 40°F. We haven't broken the freezing mark in Boston in 5 days and we won't again today or tomorrow. That will make 7 straight days below freezing and keep the snow cover at similar levels through mid-week.

The sun is going to be bright today and you likely won’t see any clouds through tomorrow. Unfortunately, the air is just going to not respond to the sun’s warmth. This air originated in the arctic and as such doesn’t have much heat with it.

Other than solar glare, there won’t be any weather issues through Wednesday night. The next storm arrives Thursday morning. Currently, it appears the storm will begin between 5 AM and 9AM which makes a big difference if you are heading to work. I’ll give you a more specific start time later today and certainly by Wednesday.

Thursday is a messy day. There will be snow, heavy at times inland and snow changing to rain at the coast. The rain/snow line is going to push west and north during the day making everything sloppy where it does changeover. I would categorize this as a strong storm, it's not going to be a blockbuster.

The key to how much snow you end up shoveling is based on how far inland the warm air pushes. Unlike the past several events the cold air is not locked in place. As the storm moves up the coastline will push the cold air out of the region. It’s easier for the warm air to make it the first 10 miles or so off the ocean and inland. However, the further away from the water you are, the less likely the mild ocean air is to reach you.

As you move west from Boston the topography changes and the elevation increases. The hills around Worcester heading up to Route 2 act as a barrier to the warm air and therefore will see the most amount of snow from this storm.

The computer guidance we all use is still not entirely in line with the extent of the warm air. This means the amount of snow predicted can change dramatically over the next 24 hours. I am leaning towards an earlier change to rain in Boston, a mix in the Route 128 belt and mostly snow west of Route 495. Since the snow will be coming down heavily Thursday before the changeover those places which hold onto the snow longer will see significantly greater snow totals than areas which change earliest.

The maps below give you an idea of temperatures during Thursday. I drew some lines on the maps to indicate where the rain snow line is likely to set-up during the middle part of the storm. Below those two maps I drew an early indication of snow amounts. I am highly confident Cape Cod will see very little snow and quite confident the ski areas will see a lot of snow. In the middle of these two areas the forecast is the most difficult.
Thursday temp wide.png

This map shows a closer look at temperatures Thursday.

rain snow line.png

I’d love to hear from you on Twitter @growingwisdom.

The snow is going to be heavy and wet and there will be quite a bit of wind. These two combinations will create some power issues. The more snow, the better chance of a loss of power you have. If you are more susceptible to power loss, I would do whatever planning you normally do in case it happens. This is especially true west of the Route 128 to Route 495 belt.

Tides are astronomically low this week, however seas will be very rough and there will likely be at least some beach erosion from this storm. This isn’t a blockbuster blizzard or terribly strong nor’easter. The most notable variables in this storm will be the heavy wet snow, coastal winds and high seas. Impacts to travel will be significant because the extent of the storm runs from Atlanta today to Washington, DC tomorrow and New England on Thursday.

More cold air comes in later this weekend and early next week, but there are signs of a pattern change and perhaps even warmer than average temperatures beyond the middle of the month.

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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