We had some summer days in February and you may have even broken out shorts a few times. But March never fails to deliver a reminder that spring comes slowly and in spurts around here.
Over the next week, we’ll be receiving a blunt message that winter is holding on, with a couple chances of snow and record cold descending across New England.
First up is a ‘clipper’ that will slide south of us late Thursday night into Friday morning. While not a major storm system, the timing will be a problem, because it will hit during the morning commute.
Snow should begin to fill in from west to east after midnight and pick up toward daybreak, with the most intense snowfall generally occurring between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.
During peak snow, we could see a few areas of 1 to 2 inch per hour rates, especially in southeastern Massachusetts.
There are a couple of tricky elements to this system. First of all, temperatures will be borderline for most of southeastern Massachusetts and the snow comes on the heels of a couple of mild days. This may mean that snow will have a tough time accumulating on roadways initially.
On top of that, we’re getting into “sun angle” season, where the mid-March sun, now roughly as strong as it is in late September, can make it difficult for snow to add up during the day unless it’s coming down at a good clip.
These factors will likely limit the higher-end accumulations to 3 to 6 inches, focused on areas south of the Mass. Pike.
It’s also not a widespread storm. Locations north of the Pike will likely see some minor snowfall and low visibility on the roads for a time, but nothing north of 3 inches is expected there. Most will receive a coating to a couple of inches.
Even as the first storm departs, we’ll be keeping tabs on an arctic front to the north. We’ve really got a remarkable case of weather déjà vu going on! Destructive wind gusts on Thursday, arctic front Friday, bitterly cold weekend to follow. Nearly exactly the same as last week with identical timing. Eerie.
The arctic front swings through Friday evening, and brings another round of snow squalls just like we saw last Friday. Behind it – you guessed it: more wind and cold. Temperatures will plummet into the single digits and teens by Saturday morning, and barely move during the day. Highs will only reach the teens to low 20s. Essentially, we get the same exact day as last Saturday. Although it comes with an even better chance of breaking records since it’s arriving one week later in March.
It will be an extremely impressive cold pocket diving straight out of the Canadian arctic. And we won’t get quite the same warmup as last Sunday. This cold air will hold on a little longer, which means another day stuck in the 20s and more lows in the single digits.
This would be a cold weekend by midwinter standards, let alone mid-March! It’s also bad news for our poor fruit trees, hydrangeas, tulips, and other assorted flora that woke up during the tremendous warmth we saw February to early March.
Some farmers I’ve spoken with already expect that peach tree damage occurred last weekend, and this weekend will not help. It’s part of the peril of an early spring stretch and why temperatures in the 60s and 70s, while good in the moment, are not welcome so early in the year.
After the cold weekend, we turn our attention to a nor’easter risk. The jet stream will take on a pretty classic setup for an East Coast storm by Tuesday with a deep trough in the east and strong ridging across the Rockies.
While the event is still several days out, computer models are showing a very strong signal for a potent winter storm to develop. We’ll be keeping an eye on this for wobbles, either east or west a bit, in the days to come. But a chance for significant snow and wind is there and along for the ride would be more cold air.
Let’s just hope Mother Nature slows her roll heading into St. Patrick’s weekend and the festivities that come with it!
Eric Fisher is a meteorologist at WBZ-TV.