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Rain this evening, icy commute Thursday

Posted by David Epstein  March 12, 2014 03:00 PM

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Heavy snow in Buffalo is moving towards the mountains of New England this evening and while it's too warm to snow here in southern New England, that moisture will bring a round of downpours and mild air overnight.

While this is true, we do have a wintry issue tomorrow morning. As the storm moves past Boston, colder air is going to rapidly infiltrate the area. When this happens, if there is still moisture on the roads, walkways and your car it freezes. We term this phenomenon a "flash freeze" (not as sexy as the polar vortex of course).

Flash freezes are tough to predict because if itís windy and the roads dry before the temperatures fall, it wonít occur. The reason for the prediction tomorrow is as the storm ends there will be quick period of snow. The snow is going to fall on very wet and somewhat warm ground making it turn quite slushy to start. Then the snow will become lighter and less watery just as it is ending. This should put down some snow on top of slush which will then freeze solid. Isn't the weather fun here?

Iíll be updating the forecast on Twitter @growingwisdom.


These types of situations if they do come to fruition cause major driving issues. This is similar to what happened earlier this winter in the Worcester area when all those cars became entangled with one another. I donít want to over or understate the travel issue for tomorrow morning. Crews are well aware of what could occur and the National Weather Service has put out a Winter Weather Advisory in anticipation of the freeze.
wsw bost.jpg
The situation could be bad enough that some schools delay opening for an hour or two.
The storm itself doesn't really begin until late this afternoon. The evening commute looks to be quite wet and slow due to all the rain. Rain will be the main precipitation for everyone in southern New England including as far west as the Berkshires.
freezing line.jpg

Overnight the rain/snow line and the freeze line will quickly collapse to the coastline. I expect the temperature to fall below freezing in Boston metro area between about 5AM and 7AM, very poor timing for work Thursday. Areas from Pittsfield to Leominster will see the rain change to freezing rain, sleet and eventually snow earlier. This will occur in the midnight to 4AM time.
snowfall mass.jpg

After the snow ends tomorrow morning, it will remain blustery and extremely cold for the time of year. Highs tomorrow occur early before the cold arrives. By sunrise, when you add in the wind, itís going to feel like the middle of January once again. Temperatures may actually fall to the upper teens in the morning and could remain there for many hours.

Friday is milder with highs in the mid-30s. Any leftover ice and snow will begin to melt and by Saturday, when it reaches 50F once again, more melting will occur.

This is what March weather is all about. Itís a battle between winter and spring which often rages over the northern part of the country. Itís typical and expected to have temperatures feeling like spring one day and then shovel more snow 24 hours later. I can tell you how this war between winter and spring ends, because spring always wins. I just canít tell you yet, when the last battle will be fought.

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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