Snow continues moderate to heavy especially along the immediate coastline and south shore of the area. I updated the snowfall map for metro Boston slightly. The largest totals will be south of Plymouth. There the heavy snow will create a situation where driving will become virtually impossible through about midnight. The heavy snow and wind will also impact the immediate shore line. Route 1 from Boston to Salem and through the North Shore will also continue very difficult this evening. The further west you are, the less difficult travel will be. For the most populated parts of eastern Massachusetts this is a small event while for parts of southeastern areas and Cape Cod, it's quite a different story.
Explosive cyclogeneis or bombogenesis are meteorological terms used to describe the rapid intensification of a low pressure system or storm. Atmospherically, the air is rushing off the planet so fast in the center of the storm it creates an air hole of sorts in the middle. Air then rushes in to replace the rapidly rising air and results in a lot of wind. Itís sort of like digging a hole at the beach and watching the water fill it up really fast. This is the weather situation we have developing right now. In these situations a tiny shift in the storms track and your position relative to the storm can have major implications to snow totals.
Picture yourself trying whack someone with your hand, Iíll let you choose who it is. If at the same time you extend your arm to impact them, you started moving away you might miss them. If you move quickly, you give them a glancing blow and if you slow down they feel the full impact of your hand. The big ocean storm is going to brush areas just west of Worcester while hitting areas over Cape Cod full force. Ok, enough analogies, I know get the accumulation.
Blizzard defined again
A blizzard is a three hour periods when winds blow at over 35 miles oer hour and the visibility (how far you can see ahead)is reduced to under one-quarter mile, due to either falling snow or snow blowing around off the ground. The weather service expects these conditions to be met along the coast so a blizzard warning has been issued.
When it begins
The storm hits this afternoon roughly between 2 and 4PM and then ramps up to full force between 6PM and midnight. During this time, the snow could come down at 1 to 3 inches per hour. While all this is happening, the back edge of the snow will already be pushing eastward.
I'll be updating the forecast throughout the weekend here and on Twitter @growingwisdom.
The further east you live, the longer it will snow and therefore the higher the amounts. There will likely be very sharp gradients of snow totals again from Rockport to Reading and Boston to Boxford.
The snow is going to get blow around a lot. Winds will be strong with the storm and there could again be scattered power outages from this quick hitting noríeaster. Much of Cape Cod has started as snow and without any rain I have increased totals similar to those on the other side of the canal through Plymouth.
What could change
From this point forward I will be watching the radar to see where the heaviest bands set up and who will likely have the most snow. Remember, there are ranges of snow totals because snow amounts vary wildly over a short distance.
When it ends
Between 1AM and 4AM the entire system pulls east, the snow ends and skies start to clear. Cold weather returns behind the system for two days. Highs Sunday and Monday only reach the 20s.
Tuesday night or Wednesday, we have the next storm with more snow or snow and rain, this looks to be light. Iíll have details over the weekend. It does turn milder after that and I promise highs reach at least the 40's by the end of the week.
Next Thursday looks partly sunny with highs 40 to 45, I had to start with something to look forward to as there is another storm headed for New England. Before I explore the details of the Saturday storm, letís get into the forecast today.
I am expecting skies to clear and sunshine to returns to the area on a gusty wind from the northwest. Temperatures will rise above freezing reaching the mid-30s for some minor melting of the snowpack. There are wind advisories in effect for most of the region with a stronger warning for the wind over Cape Cod. The winds could cause scattered power outages today.
A piece of energy now over the center of the Country will move eastward to the coast and then develop into a major storm. This storm will come close enough to bring accumulating snow to eastern New England later Saturday afternoon and Saturday night.
The storm is going to turn into a big intense one in the ocean and any wobble further west towards the coastline is going to up the total snowfall into the 8 to 10 inch range. I need to wait until all the new data is in this morning and later this afternoon before deciding if any changes to the accumulation maps need to be made.
Right now Boston will likely see close to 6 inches of snow, but as I just mentioned, that number could increase. Of course, if the data shows the storm staying offshore further, then I will be able to lower snow amounts a bit.
The snow will begin after 2PM and last through about midnight Saturday. The snow will be heaviest during the 5PM to 9PM period based on the current projections for the track and intensity of the storm.
I'll be updating the forecast here and on Twitter @growingwisdom.
A lot of times I get questions about whether to cancel or not attend an event due to a storm. Tomorrow night will be snowy, especially in eastern areas. If you absolutely hate driving in snow, then think about postponing whatever plans you may have for tomorrow. However, we live in a part of the country where highway crews do a good job keeping up with most storms. This isnít going to be the kind of storm which makes roads impassable or creates a situation such as those we have seen in the southeastern part of the United States this winter.
Some flights could be impacted late Saturday afternoon and overnight, but the storm isnít as widespread as the last one which hit all major cities from Atlanta to Boston.
The most precipitation will fall over Cape Cod and Islands. The snow will be a bit heavy, especially to start there storm. There could even be some rain mixed with the snow for a couple of hours. As the evening progresses the snow will become heavier and winds will blow and drift the snow.
The whole system pulls away for Sunday with a return to sunshine, blustery and cold conditions. The dry cold weather lasts through Presidentís Day, (Lincoln was born on the 12th and Washington on the 22nd of the month so we celebrate in the middle) with highs staying in the 20s for both days.
Finally, on Tuesday, we begin a stretch of above freezing weather which should last throughout the rest of next week. There may be some rain or snow leading us into the milder weather on Tuesday, but I do expect plenty of sunshine by Thursday.
The heavy precipitation is now upon the region. It's snowing so hard the snow is pulling down cold air from above. This means places like Brighton and Watertown where it was raining, it has changed back to snow. Parts of Boston will see most of their accumulation of snow over the next several hours. This isn't the time to be leaving the office The heaviest bands move through by 3PM to 5PM, so just wait this out and then you will be able to head home much safer.
Where it is snowing, travel is going to be very difficult until the evening commute. I do not recommend you leave work and head west or north. before the heavy band of precipitation lifts northward.
The morning blog is below.
Letís start with 5 bottom lines on this storm. First, itís not big snow event for eastern Massachusetts. Second, this isnít a coastal flooding event. Third, snow will be heavy and wet and even a few inches will be difficult to move especially after the rain. Forth, the heaviest of the snow occurs in the Boston area and immediate suburbs before 3PM. Fifth, there will be a wide range of snow totals with amounts increasing the further west and north you live.
The snow will continue to become heavier this morning while at the same time the warmer air moves north and west up the coast from Cape Cod. There will be an inch or two of snow over Cape Cod as the air is just cold enough to allow for snow at the onset of the storm for a couple of hours.
By now most of you know the key to the forecast is the rain/snow line. The immediate Boston area as well as within a few miles of the ocean north along Route 1 and south along Route 3 is where the rain/snow line can fluctuate later this morning and early this afternoon. It is in these areas where snow could accumulate as much as 5 inches or as little as an inch or 2. Since the snow will be coming down at rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour later this morning, a difference of 2 hours of snow versus rain will show up as dramatically different accumulation amounts when this storm is done.
The accumulation maps are based on the rain/snow line moving into Boston sooner in the late morning rather than late this afternoon. IF the snow continued through 3PM in Boston, (which is not likely) the snow amounts would double from what you see on the map. If the rain begins earlier, (is possible) the amounts would be cut in half. So if you want to know what Iíll be watching all morning, itís the temperature.
I'll update more information and you can ask questions to me on Twitter @growingwisdom.
The maps below show the predicted radars for the duration of the storm. Notice the rain/snow line around Boston by late this morning and then pushing well west of Route 495 by sunset. There will still be some icing over interior areas during this time.
For nearly everyone the snow will become increasingly heavier throughout the storm and really heavy in areas which see a complete switch to rain. I recommend shoveling as frequently as possible and I will also be updating where the rain/snow line is on Twitter throughout the storm.
Winds are going to increase this afternoon along the coastline and continue through the first half of the overnight. The winds will be strongest along the coast. Those of you inland wonít see winds gusting to 50 miles per hour, but if you live along the water you will experience high winds for many hours later this afternoon and evening. The winds die down over Cape Cod in the early evening as the storm moves by and over Cape Ann late tonight.
There are three reasons you could lose power. Along the coastline the high winds could create a power outage. Inland the heavy wet snow may bring down some power lines or trees onto power lines. Further north and west of Route 495, some icing could contribute to power outages especially in exposed areas where there is more wind.
Overnight lull then backlash
There wonít be much going on overnight until after midnight. During the 7PM to 1AM timeframe some spotty freezing rain inland or drizzle or light rain could fall. Then, as colder air works back into the area, backlash snow will move eastward. This last batch of precipitation from the storm could add a few inches to the snow totals over northern Worcester and Essex Counties, but I am not expecting more than a coating to an inch in the Boston area. This could be enough snow to snarl the Friday morning commute a bit before the snow ends around 7 AM to 8 AM.
Friday and Saturday
Sunshine returns later tomorrow with a blustery breeze and chilly temperatures in the 30s. Another big ocean storm will brush by (it better not move west) and bring some clouds and flurries or a period of light snow Saturday. This will not be more than a coating to an inch or two. More on this part of the forecast later.
The final day of the weekend is bright and sunny with highs only in the 20s. It will be a good day to enjoy the new snow, but so cold you wonít be able to move any of the slush, that will be a frozen brick.
There are still many indications of milder air later next week. It also appears we could see more rain or snow Tuesday or Wednesday. I donít have high confidence in the long-range forecast right now as the atmosphere will be in transition. Iíll update during this weekend.
The storm is still on the way for Thursday and while snow amounts wonít be very heavy in Boston, there will be some areas which see over a foot of snow. I wouldnít be surprised if a few spots across the western parts of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and northern New England see up to 18 inches of snow. This is going to be the storm the ski areas have been hoping for all winter and is perfectly timed for school vacation week which starts Friday.
The storm is going to ride up the coastal as what we affectionately call a ďcoastal huggerĒ. As these types of storm moves along the coast they carry a lot of moisture and also a lot of warm air on their right side. A difference in 10 miles of the exact place the center of the storm passes can change the amount of snow by 4 to 5 inches.
This is the same storm bringing terrible winter weather to areas of the southeast where this storm will be historical and some of those folks will be talking about this event for many years. For us here in New England, itís a typical sloppy noríeaster with heavy snow inland, rain over Cape Cod and a mess in the middle.
I'l be updating on Twitter regularly. Look for updates here and on there as well.
The snow forecast is the biggest challenge. This is the toughest forecast of the winter because there is so much precipitation involved. When you see the two maps below notice how quickly the snow builds as you move west. I made a close-up map of the area where the snow accumulation gradient is greatest. The snow increases towards the next level within each zone. If the storm shifts a bit east, the zones move with them and we see more snow inside metro Boston.
There will be strong winds developing during this storm. The winds will contribute to the possibility of power outages, especially in the area with the heaviest snow. The map below shows the wind Thursday afternoon around 4PM. Use the key on the right to see how strong the winds might be. Notice the strongest winds are on the coast. Actual winds may be a bit stronger in gusts. Tides are astronomically low, however there still could be some minor beach erosion and splash over of sea water at the time high tide late this evening.
The snow moves in to the area between 7AM and 9AM. If you are headed to work tomorrow leave early. If you head into Boston before the start of the storm, you will still need to get home. Those of you who live west of Route 128 should seriously consider home commuting if possible. The evening commute will be particularly difficult heading west. It will not be nearly as poor of a commute heading south towards Cape Cod.
The storm will wind down in the late afternoon and evening between 4 and 9PM across the area. As the system pulls east and continues to develop there could actually be a thunderstorm over the coastal plain.
Friday morning snow
I am concerned about a new area of snow after 1AM Friday. The models are indicating another burst of precipitation in the form of snow early Friday and this may impact the morning commute. There could be a coating of snow or even a couple of inches. I will have more on this possibility later today and tomorrow.
A weak system will bring some snow showers or light snow to the area Saturday morning. This wonít be a big system or even medium, but it could coat the ground or give a couple of inches of new snow. Behind this system it turns colder for Sunday. There may actually be more storminess during the first part of the next week.
When does this cold end?
There are signs of a moderation in temperatures later next week and some significant melting is possible. Several indicators show temperatures reaching the 40s sometime after the 18th. Iím just trying to give you all something to look forward to in this very rough winter season.
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.
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 6įF, 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 40įF. 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 wonít see any clouds through tomorrow. Unfortunately, the air is just going to not respond to the sunís warmth. This air originated in the arctic and as such doesnít have much heat with it.
Other than solar glare, there wonít 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. Iíll 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. Itís 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.
This map shows a closer look at temperatures Thursday.
Iíd 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 isnít a blockbuster blizzard or terribly strong noríeaster. 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 is the blog from earlier today.
Itís a quiet day afternoon with a lot of sunshine. I updated very little from the morning blog and the maps are the same. There will be some late day clouds, but enough sun to help boost temperatures into the lower and middle 30s. Tonight clouds are going to increase tonight and snow breaks out between 3AM and 5AM on Wednesday. This is a front loaded storm. In other words, it snows hardest from about 7AM until around 1PM. During this time most of the accumulation will occur. In the afternoon there will be lighter snow still falling, but clean-up will occur and I expect roads to slowly for the latter half of the afternoon. This doesn't mean smooth driving, just not as bad as the morning.
Across Cape Cod and the Islands the snow will change to rain and cut down amounts significantly. For the last couple of hours of precipitation from about 4 to 6PM, the rain should end as a brief period of snow.
That's the overview of the upcoming storm and the specifics follow. I will update here and on Twitter throughout the day and during the storm. I think one of the biggest impacts of this next storm is to our collective psyche's. Unless you love this stuff, you are probably over winter. Remember, it's been cold since before Thanksgiving, that's a long haul. Think positive, we are gaining light fast and the cold isn't as cold as January. Baseball practice season isn't too far away either!
When does the snow occur?
This is a bit risky for me to do because itís impossible to do this for the entire area. This will give you a generally feeling for the intensity of the storm and what to expect. For the Boston metro area this is what I am thinking.
Between 9AM and 1PM look for 3-6 inches to fall
Between 1PM and 5PM look for a 1-2 inches to fall
Type of snow
The snow will be heavy and wet south of Boston and become increasingly less heavy the further north you travel. North of the Massachusetts Turnpike the snow will be much lighter and therefore able to pile up to higher amounts.
While I am not expecting widespread power issues, the heavy wet nature of the snow across the South Shore could take down some tree limbs and in turn hit wires. This isnít something easy to predict, but be aware the possibility is certainly there in this storm.
There wonít be much in the way of wind with this system. Winds will come from the east at 10-20 miles per hour at the coast, certainly nothing even close to those storms which bring strong winds.
The Wednesday morning commute is going to be a mess. Snow will be falling at heavy rates throughout the commute. I would recommend, if you can, take work home and work from home tomorrow. There will be widespread cancellations and those of you in the areas with the heavy snow predicted will certainly have your kidís home to help you enjoy your snow day. The evening commute will take place with the snow ending and road crews trying to get things back to normal. Since the snow will be very heavy in some places, the evening commute will be better, but still slow.
The good news is this storm is not going to create any coastal flooding.
Changes to the forecast
Hereís what can go wrong with this forecast. The biggest potential change will be areas south of Boston. If the storm tracks further north or south the snow amounts will change dramatically. This afternoon, if the new data shows a colder storm, I will need to ďupĒ the amounts for Cape Cod/Islands. If the new data shows an even warmer system and a change to rain earlier the amounts will drop. Remember, the map of snowfall is based on the best data at the time. It will change as more information comes available this afternoon. I update the forecast on Twitter throughout the day and feel free to ask me any questions there as well.
The weather turns calmer for a few days Thursday through Saturday with a blend of clouds and sunshine and highs in the upper 20s to near 30F. It will be nice to get outside and enjoy the new snow. The next storm threat is Sunday afternoon through Monday. There will be a big storm developing. However, the amount of snow could be near zero if the storm stays hundreds of miles off the coast or a much more significant storm if the track takes the system closer to the region. Itís still 5 or 6 days away and impossible to know at this stage.
The blizzard warning continues overnight for much of the Massachusetts coastline, but doesn't include the city of Boston. This warning extends all the way north to Rockland, Maine. Blizzard warnings mean visibility will lower to a quarter mile or less for 3 hours because of the strong winds which will blow the snow. The snow will be heavy at times overnight until around 6AM or 7AM. The heaviest snow will fall east of Route 495, but all areas will see snow.
On the radar image below I have put a rectangle around the area of precipitation moving northward overnight. It's this big area which will bring several hours of heavy snow to the region, especially within 30 miles or so of the coastline.
Topsfield has already picked up 15 inches, Rowley 16 inches of snow and other areas have seen near a foot. If these locations get another 8 or 10 overnight, they will easily close in on 20 to 24 inches of total accumulation.
While there has been some unpredictable and amazing snow totals thus far, most of the area has seen 3-7 inches. I have augmented the accumulation map to move the area of heaviest snow further into Essex and parts of Middlesex Counties. Itís impossible to tell you exactly how much snow you will see, because these bands are like summertime thunderstorms. If your house in under one of the bands, you are going to be at the high end of the snow total or even exceed the prediction by a bit.
When the storm is over, I believe this will end up being a memorable storm for parts of eastern Massachusetts, but just a typical snowstorm for most of the state. It will be interesting to see where these bands start forming overnight and how long different areas stay under the most intense bands. My highest predicted totals will be the exception, not the rule.
Snow bands can form and reform over the same area. Notice on the image below there are areas of heavy snow (green) and lighter snow (blue) just a few miles from one another. We can forecast that bands will form, but not the accurate placement of them.
Iíll be tweeting radar images showing where the bands are and where they are expected to move. When you view a radar image, look for the green areas, those will be places with the heavy snow of 1 or 2 inches per hour. This image shows the heaviest snow running southwest from Boston.
Travel isn't recommended the rest of the night and through 7AM Friday. After 7AM the heaviest of the snow will be winding down and improvement to roads will take place. It's going to take all day to clear some side streets in those areas that end up with the highest totals.
When will you update again?
I will give regular frequent updates throughout the storm. I update often on Twitter @growingwisdom. Feel free to chat with me there.
How about the wind and power outages?
The wind will be blustery and reach gusts over 35 miles per hour, mostly along the coast. These speeds alone are not enough to cause power issues. Because the snow will be so light, it's not going to stick to the wires, so I am not concerned about the power. Of course, there is always the possibility in any storm of isolated power outages.
How about the coastal flooding threat?
Each high tide cycle from now through Friday at noon is astronomically a high tide. This means the tides are higher than normal anyway, even without a storm. The maps below show the areas most vulnerable to minor to moderate flooding during this storm. These are predictive maps and are subject to change. The actual height of the water will be different when it occurs, but this gives coastal residents a good idea of what to expect.
How will air travel be affected by the nor'easter?
Airports are clearly greatly affected by the snow. Logan Airport has suspended travel from 8PM this evening until Noon Friday. How the storm unfold overnight will determine if that noontime start does happen.
When will the storm end?
The heaviest snow will exit the area between 5AM and 8AM. The progression of the back edge of the snow will mark steadily eastward so by 10AM any leftover snow should be over in Boston and by noon or 1PM the last of the snow should be exiting Cape Cod. The image below is for 8AM and give you an idea of where the heavy snow, light snow and back edge will be during that hour.
Will the kids have school Friday?
Many schools in eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island have announced closures for Friday. Check your local area to see what the status of your school system is for Friday.
How cold will it be during the storm?
Temperatures are going to become very cold tonight and Friday. Temperatures will continue to slowly fall much of the rest of the evening and will be bitter cold by sunrise Friday. If you have issues with pipes freezing in cold weather you should do whatever you normally do to prevent that from occurring. If you leave your water dripping slowly, the movement of the water won't allow it to freeze. It's worth the money considering the alternative.
The wind is going to make it feel even colder than the actual temperature readings. Some towns will see wind chills reach 20 below and there could be a wind chill advisory issued for the cold. This is dangerous cold, I don't use that adjective often, but this cold is not something we see every winter.
Overall how bad will this storm be?
In many ways this is a classic storm, but everyone has different criteria for how they judge these storms. The over foot of snow before the core of the storm even has really started is noteworthy. Overall, this will be a typical January nor'easter. The blizzard warning makes it more serious for those driving tonight in those areas. The long duration will make it difficult if you don't like driving in snow, because there will be so many hours of snow on the roads. The length of time it will take the snow to occur and the light weight will make it easy to clear. The lack of widespread moderate or major coastal flooding won't make this storm memorable for coastal folks. I think one of the more notable aspects of the storm will be how much snow falls at such cold temperatures. It's not often we see significant snow with temperatures so cold, I am really interested to see just how dry the snow actually is especially at the end of the storm, when it's the coldest.