Snow Continues Throughout The Night, Heaviest Over Eastern Massachusetts

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8PM Update
As I sit down to a final check of the forecast and watch the Grammy Awards not much has changed. The radar (above) is indicating the snow is growing steadier and heavier and with many business and schools closed for tomorrow it’s a matter of forecasting the rest of the storm and when it all ends. I recommend shoveling in small batches, but that’s just my personal preference. I find it easier to move the stuff little by little rather than all at once.

I think most of you awake to 4 to 8 inches of snow with 2-4 more inches than that where any bands of heavier snow occur. I’ll update the forecast early Monday. Have a great night.

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Noon Update 2-8-15
Intermittent light snow or flurries will become heavier and steadier after 3 PM this afternoon. While the blog today focuses on the heavy bands of snow possible over the next couple of days, it should be noted some of you will see significantly less that the highest totals. There can be as much as a 12 inch or greater difference across counties in the areas the heaviest snow occurs. Middlesex, Essex Norfolk and Suffolk Counties could see some of the widest swings in accumulation.

8AM 2-8-15 Update
Snow today will be on the lighter side. There may only be a coating to an inch or two before 2 PM. Later this afternoon the snow will redevelop and by mid-evening another couple of inches on average will have fallen. Travel will be slower today, but you’ll still be able to do errands, go to events etc. I think tomorrow is when we see a spike in cancellations.

Morning Blog

I’ve been thinking a lot about the upcoming snow event and how it might impact our lives over the next three days. Back in the winter of 1995-1996, when Boston saw over 100 inches of snow, the impact was serious, but at least the volume of snow was spread out over a relatively long period of time.

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For a multitude of meteorological reasons, much of New England has been hit particularly hard hit by snow over the past two weeks and it’s definitely going to become worse before it gets better.

Many areas have two or more feet of snow on the level and it’s about to get higher. Streets are clogged by snow and the snow banks are already enormous. Add in a two-day snowstorm and we could be seeing problems we haven’t seen in the modern era.

Boston isn’t built to handle 5 or 6 feet of snow in just over two weeks, yet there is the potential by Tuesday morning that is exactly what will have fallen since this pattern began with the blizzard. If this is the case, snow budgets will be the least of many cities and towns issues. Travel by car will become painfully slow through Boston (worse than it is already) and nearly as slow in other areas that exceed a foot of new snow by Tuesday morning. It won’t matter that roads are plowed, because they will become even narrower and slower to navigate. Already we must all inch into various intersections we used to be able to just stop and proceed through.

Historically, roads become most problematic when the snow rates exceed the ability of crews to keep up with them. There are indications that heavy bands of snow could set up near or even in Boston during this event. This could make this storm something very unique and potentially bring parts of the area to a standstill.

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What has me most concerned is the banding signature showing up on the mesoscale models with this storm. These are models which can see smaller features than the GFS or Euro you often hear about. Another way to put this, some areas could exceed 2 feet of snow since this began late yesterday. I can give you the best estimate where this is likely to happen, but none of us knows for sure if it will happen or where it will happen. This is why you might have heard about the possibility of 2 or more feet of snow in spots. Some areas have already seen 4-6 inches of snow.

Localized Events
This summer, Portland, Maine recorded 13 inches of rain in a day. This rain event was small scale and if you had driven just few miles outside the city the rainfall totals where much less.

In November we saw one town near Buffalo get 88 inches of snow in an extreme Lake Effect event. If you had driven a short distance away, you would have seen exponentially less snow.

These small and historical events are very difficult to pinpoint. We can only see on the models hints that this type of pattern might occur.

Let’s fast forward to this current snow event. We have a winter storm warning in place for much of the area from now through early Tuesday. The northern two-thirds of southern New England will have ended up with 10-20 inches of snow when the final flakes fall sometime early Tuesday. This includes what you woke up to this morning. Will there be areas with even higher totals, it’s possible. Will the city of Boston exceed 12, 18 or 24 inches; unfortunately, this is not out of the question. The upper limits of snowfall are very difficult to forecast. You actually are much more likely to see less than the highest predicted total, but I do like to at least acknowledge this is possible.

The map below is one forecast for snowfall. Notice the small bands of heavy snow just north of Boston. This map is for total snowfall during the entire storm. (Credit:WSI)

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Timing of Snow And Accumulations

The series of maps and chart below give you an idea of how the snow will pile up over the next couple of days. This is subject to refinement of course. I’ll update the forecast as needed here and on Twitter @growingwisdom.

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So what does one do with all this snow? Accumulations are going to vary widely again because of the banding. Here are some suggestions for those of you who see very high amounts of snow.

First, If you don’t have to drive into Boston don’t. You can get caught in gridlock really easily. I would not be surprised, IF the heaviest bands of snow materialize close to the city, that driving is prohibited for a period of time to deal with the clean-up. That’s would be a perfect storm scenario of sorts.

Second, check vents around your house. Snow will force carbon monoxide into your home if it’s blocking heating vents.

Third, spend some time trying to make room where possible for the snow. I am spending time pushing my snow banks back so I can see getting onto the main road. If you don’t have room to push them back try creating tunnels for vision at least.

Look at your roof. Although we have seen a lot of snow mine doesn’t have more than a foot or so up there right now. Flat roofs are going to collect the most snow of course. Call an expert if you are not sure about your roof and what is can handle.

Logan Airport, Highway Driving, Cancellations

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It’s impossible for me to know all the upcoming impacts. If the banding of snow did become stuck around Logan Airport Sunday night or Monday, there would be widespread cancellations. Additionally, I think as the plows put the snow back onto sidewalks, it will force many schools to cancel Monday and perhaps Tuesday, especially in those area hardest hit. Some places won’t see enough snow for cancellations, these area are most likely south of Plymouth.

Historical Winter

After this snowstorm there is the chance of another one Thursday or Friday followed by very cold, perhaps record cold, weather next weekend. I’ve been forecasting since I was 16 years old and can remember a lot of weather. If the next 10 days materializes the way some of the models are indicating, some of you, and perhaps many, of you will remember this as the benchmark period of winter cold and snow the rest of your life.


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