While today’s storm was the first snow we’ve had to plow in a while, winter is about to take a more serious turn.
Even though we haven’t seen a lot of snow this month, it’s still been a colder than average month in spite of the perception of many that this has been an easy winter. A lack of deep snow just makes it easier to move around and takes away some of that claustrophobic feeling that can set in this time of year.
Back in the fall I wrote about perception and reality when it comes to winter. If we see a lot of cold, but not much snow the perception is for an easy winter. If we only see one or two big storms the same thing is the case. If we received ten 4 inch snowstorms every Wednesday afternoon, starting at 3PM, the perception would be it was a horrible winter, while in reality snowfall would be average.
While November was cold and snowy, December was mild and wet. So far January has been cold without much snow, but there is good reason to believe that is about to change in a major way.
I’ll update the forecast here and on Twitter @growingwisdom
First, the storm for Tuesday has the potential to be very large. The Canadian, the American and the European models all agree a big storm is going to develop off our coastline with lots of wind and plenty of moisture. The UKMet model has the storm further off the coast, but still quite large for eastern Massachusetts.
There are many questions that need to be answered over the next couple of days. What is the track of the storm? Where is the rain-snow line? How much wind? Yes, rain could be an issue for some of you if the storm became large enough and tracked close enough to the coastline.
Second, this storm is still three days away and it’s not prudent or responsible to start pegging snow totals just yet. Check out this tweet from earlier when someone said their phone was showing up to two and a half feet of snow. This is the problem with the public nature of the computer models. Some applications on your phone can take the literal interpretation of the model and put it into a forecast.
Additionally, the European model was forecasting a up to a foot of snow for Boston today, if meteorologists had used that information without inputting their own understanding of the atmosphere the forecast would have been a big bust.
In spite of my caveats, there is the potential for a major snowstorm for the entire area. I consider major over 10 inches of snow. Boston hasn’t seen a foot of snow in a single storm in two years, since February 9th 2013. Is this next storm going to break that gap? Perhaps it will. We will have much more confidence on the storm after tomorrow afternoon’s run. Yes, there’s still a chance we don’t even see the storm, but that idea is becoming less likely.
If you live along the coastline you will want to stay in close contact to a good forecast tomorrow. If it does look more likely a major nor’easter is going to take place, you’ll have all day Monday to get ready.
Back in early January, when Boston hit two below zero, I thought that morning could be the coldest morning of the winter. I now believe the cold coming in early February will rival that early January cold and there’s a good chance we go further below zero than those cold mornings three weeks ago. Not only could the arctic air the first 10 days of February potentially break the cold readings we’ve seen this winter so far, but in some parts of the eastern third of the United States some long standing records could fall.
If we have deep snow cover and bitter cold for the next month or so, our memory of the winter of 2014-2015 may be about to be altered.