Weekly Outlook

Weekly Outlook: March 26-April 1, 2018

March certainly came in like a lion, but true to form, it’s probably going out like a lamb. After a very active month, much of the upcoming week will feature some rather benign weather.

The week starts out with high pressure to our north and northeast, meaning dry but cool conditions for Monday and Tuesday. Of course, cool is a relative term, since “cool” late March means 40s for highs, as opposed to teens and 20s in January. That also means that we’ll continue to melt this persistent snow cover that we’ve had. Of course, with melting during the day and temperatures dropping below freezing at night, the potential exists for some black ice, so use a little caution if you’re heading out during the next few evenings.

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High temperatures should be right around 50 for the final week of March. Image provided by Weathermodels.com

For Wednesday, a weak system moves across the region, bringing us some scattered showers. If the precipitation moves in early enough, which is a possibility, we could see a little freezing rain or some sleet Wednesday morning, especially from the Merrimack Valley into southern New Hampshire.

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Some freezing rain is possible across southern New Hampshire and the Merrimack Valley as precipitation moves in Wednesday morning. Im age provided by WeatherBell.

This brings us to Thursday, which will be a sure sign for many of you that Spring has finally arrived. Sure, it’ll be dry and mild. Temperatures should be well into the 50s across the area. More important than that – it’s Opening Day. The 2018 regular season begins for the Boys of Summer. When Chris Sale steps to the mound at Tropicana Field, the fans there won’t see a single cloud in the sky, but that’s because it’s a domed stadium and you can’t see the sky from inside the park. Around here, if you’re tuning into NESN or WEEI, it should be a fantastic day to leave work a little early (first pitch is at 4pm), and enjoy the fact that baseball is back. In fact, Thursday will feature a Boston/Tampa doubleheader on NESN. No, not two baseball games, but right after the Sox and Rays play, the Bruins and Lightning will faceoff at the Garden with 1st place in the Eastern Conference on the line. If you’re a fan of both hockey and baseball (like we are here at StormHQ), then there aren’t too many days on the calendar better than Thursday.

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Back to the weather, Friday will still be mild, but also wet, as a storm system passes north and west of the region. Of course, given the way this past winter has gone, we wouldn’t be surprised if that storm trended farther south and east, and we end up cooler, but for now, we’ll remain optimistic.

Behind the system, we should remain seasonably mild on Saturday, with showers ending in the morning but Sunday is the day with questions. At least one model wants to bring another system right in with windy, wet, and warmer conditions, while another model wants to build a high pressure system in with sunshine and seasonable conditions. Once again, we’ll remain optimistic, but be forewarned, you may need umbrellas for your Easter or Passover plans.

Monday: Clouds linger across Cape Cod, becoming partly to mostly sunny elsewhere. High 37-44.

Monday night: Clear to partly cloudy. Low 22-29.

Tuesday: Sunshine to start, then high clouds filter in during the afternoon. High 41-48.

Tuesday night: Becoming cloudy, showers developing late at night, possibly starting as some freezing rain in the Merrimack Valley and southern New Hampshire. Low 27-34.

Wednesday: Cloudy with scattered showers likely. High 41-48.

Thursday: Plenty of clouds with a few sunny breaks. High 54-61, cooler right along the South Coast.

Friday: Cloudy and breezy with showers likely. High 50-57.

Saturday: Showers ending in the morning, some sunshine develops in the afternoon, breezy. High 48-55.

Sunday: A mix of sun and clouds. High 45-52.

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Heavy Rain/Snow, Winter Weather

Storm Update: Things Might Not Be So Bad

Unlike the last storm, which we admittedly underestimated, this storm is likely not going to live up to expectations for parts of the region, mainly north and west of Boston.

As the storm starts to move in this afternoon and evening, there is a lot of dry air in place. Dewpoints are only in the upper teens and 20s across much of the region. So, as the moisture from the storm moves in, it’s moistening up the atmosphere slowly, but anything that falls from the clouds is evaporating before hitting the ground.

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Very dry air remains in place across the region this afternoon. Image provided by WeatherBell.

Eventually, the moisture will overcome this drier air, but the storm is also tracking a little farther to the south than we were thinking yesterday. As a result, snowfall totals will be considerably lower north and west of Boston than our previous forecast. Of course, this also means that there could be a bit more snow than we were thinking south of Boston, especially across Cape Cod, though some rain could still mix in there, which would limit amounts a bit.. This scenario was first hinted at by the ECMWF model 2 days ago, and most meteorologists thought of it as an outlier, since most of the other model guidance was painting a snowier scenario. We tended to discount it as well, but in the back of our minds, we kept hearing a phrase that a noted meteorologist has repeated over and over to us “Ignore the Euro at your own peril.”

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Hour-by-hour forecast for the storm based on the HRRR model from 2pm Wednesday through 8am Thursday. Image provided by Weathermodels.com

So, with that in mind, we are revising our forecast to be closer to what the European model is showing (but not exactly):

Southeastern Massachusetts/Cape Cod: 5-9″ (possibly less on the Outer Cape if rain mixes in)
I-95 Corridor (Boston/Providence): 4-7″
MetroWest: 3-5″
Merrimack Valley/NH Seacoast: 2-4″
Southern NH (Nashua/Manchester): 1-3″

This will still be a fairly wet snow south of Boston, so keep that in mind when you go out to shovel it tonight or Thursday. Once the sun comes up, thanks to the higher sun angle, any additional accumulations are not expected on paved or treated surfaces. Everything should wind down and end completely by early Thursday afternoon.

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Snowfall forecast from the ECMWF model through Thursday evening. Image provided by Weathermodels.com

As this storm moves into Atlantic Canada, and upper-level low will settle into the Northeast for Friday and Saturday, keeping us cloudy and cool. An impulse riding around the system may bring some light snow and snow showers in on Saturday, but accumulations will likely be on the light side, if we get much at all.

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Heavy Rain/Snow, Winter Weather

Mother Nature Ignores the Start of Spring

“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.”

At 12:15 EDT this afternoon, the sun was directly over the Equator, marking the Vernal Equinox, or as it is more commonly known, the start of Astronomical Spring. Here in New England, astronomical seasons don’t have really have much influence on the weather, at least the start and end of those seasons. Take this week for example. Tomorrow is the first full day of spring, but we’re expecting another snowstorm. Yup, that’d be the fourth one this month.

There’s actually a storm passing well south of New England today, so in a sense, we were spared a bit. It’s producing some rain and snow across the Mid-Atlantic states and sending a veil of high clouds across New England, dimming the sunshine this afternoon. Another storm will quickly follow on Wednesday, thickening up the cloud cover. Let’s start out by saying that this storm will not be as bad as the ones we’ve had earlier this month. We’re not expecting blizzard conditions. Oh, we’ll still have a decent amount of snow, strong winds, and some coastal flooding issues, but not at the magnitude of the earlier storms.

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Forecast for the storm’s progression based on the High-Resolution version of the NAM model. Loop provided by Tropical Tidbits.

We’ll start with the winds and coastal flooding. Tides are astronomically high again this week, so the biggest concern will be at high tide at northeast and north facing beaches, especially the high tides early Wednesday and Thursday morning, as well as Wednesday afternoon. A coastal flood watch is in effect for the early Thursday morning high tide across Plymouth County as well as the Cape and Islands. As for the winds, sustained winds of 20-30 mph are expected, especially along the coast, with gusts of 40-50 mph, perhaps as high as 60 mph across the Cape and Islands, Southeastern Massachusetts, and parts of Rhode Island. Combine that with heavy, wet snow (more on that in a moment), and yes, power outages become a concern once again.

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Wind gusts for 11pm Wednesday predicted by the High-Resolution NAM model Image provided by WeatherBell.

Now, for the part that most of you care about – snowfall. The snow should develop during the afternoon hours on Wednesday. While it’ll be snowing during the afternoon rush hour, it shouldn’t cause too many problems (the people on the roads, however, probably will). With the higher sun angle at this time of year (equivalent to mid-September), and only light snow expected during the daylight hours on Wednesday, accumulations will be fairly light, especially on paved surfaces. Once the sun sets, steadier snow will move in, with the bulk of the accumulating snow expected Wednesday evening into Thursday morning. While the accumulating snow will be all done Thursday morning, light snow and snow showers may linger into the afternoon. We also will likely be dealing with a rain/snow line. A change to rain seems likely across Cape Cod for a while Wednesday evening, with that changeover likely penetrating into parts of southeastern Massachusetts. The question is – how far? Right now, we don’t expect it to get past Route 44, if it even gets that far.

That brings us to the amounts. With temperatures close to freezing, this is going to be a heavy, wet snow, so keep that in mind when you go out to shovel or fire up the snowblower. Here’s what we’re thinking:

Cape Cod: 1-3″, highest totals on the Upper Cape
South Coast: 3-5″
South and East of I-95: 4-7″
Metro Boston/MetroWest/Merrimack Valley/North Shore: 5-9″
Southern NH (Nashua/Manchester)/NH Seacoast: 4-7″

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The snowfall forecast from the High-Resolution NAM model is closest to our thinking right now. Image provided by Pivotal Weather.

Once this system pulls away, an upper-level low pressure area will slowly move across the Northeast, which may give us some additional snow showers on Friday and Saturday, but we’re not expecting much accumulation (if any), with those. Beyond that – right now, the models aren’t showing any big storms over the next 2 weeks, but that is always subject to change. Remember, just a couple of days ago, most of the TV talking heads told you that this storm was going to stay offshore and we didn’t have to worry about it. As for when we can expect some actual “Spring” weather – well, the pattern looks to remain chilly right into at least early April.

 

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Weekly Outlook

Weekly Outlook: March 19-25, 2018

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To many of you, March Madness started this past weekend, and by now, your bracket is busted. For some of you, March Madness has been going on for a couple of weeks, and you’ve got trees and other things that are busted. Will the Madness continue? It looks like it may, for at least part of the region.

The week starts off with high pressure in control, so we have another dry but chilly day for Monday. Clouds start to stream in on Tuesday as low pressure moves off the Mid-Atlantic coastline. Unlike most of the storms that have impacted us this month, this storm should slide off to our south, with little to no impact on New England this time. However, another storm quickly follows behind that one, and this one should be a bit farther north and west, meaning that at least parts of the region will see some impact. There is still many questions about the exact track this storm will take and how strong it will be, so we’ll likely have a special post later in the week about it, but for now, we have some preliminary ideas.

It looks like a period of light snow is expected from Wednesday morning into Thursday morning across the area. The snow is most likely across southeastern Massachusetts, but could extend as far inland as southern New Hampshire and central Massachusetts. There’s also the chance that some rain could mix in across Cape Cod. These are the type of details we won’t be able to resolve until sometime on Tuesday most likely. One thing we are fairly certain of is that another period of strong winds is likely across eastern Massachusetts, especially along the coast. Tides are astronomically high again this week, so coastal flooding will be a concern at high tide, especially the high tides early Wednesday and Thursday morning, as well as Wednesday afternoon.

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Sustained winds of 20-40 mph with gusts to 60 mph are possible Wednesday into early Thursday along the coastline. Image provided by WeatherBell.

The storm starts to pull away Thursday afternoon, but with an upper-level low pressure system moving through, plenty of clouds are likely into Friday, with a few flurries possible. High pressure briefly builds in for Saturday with some sunshine, but clouds quickly return in the afternoon as the next system starts to approach. As for that system on Sunday, the usual caveats apply – it’s seven days away, there’s a ton of uncertainty, things can and will change, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Monday: Sunshine and a few clouds. High 32-39.

Monday night: Clear in the evening, then high clouds start to stream in late at night. Low 14-21.

Tuesday: Thickening clouds. High 33-40.

Tuesday night: Mostly cloudy and becoming breezy. Chance for light snow towards daybreak along the south coast. Low 21-28.

Wednesday: Cloudy and breezy with light snow likely, possibly mixing with rain across Cape Cod. High 30-37.

Thursday: Light snow ending early, a few sunny breaks may develop in the afternoon, still breezy. High 37-44.

Friday: More clouds than sunshine, chance for a flurry. High 38-45.

Saturday: Sunny to start, clouds return in the afternoon. High 37-44.

Sunday: Mostly cloudy and breezy with a chance of snow or rain. High 32-39.

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Heavy Rain/Snow, Winter Weather

Storm Update: This Could Be Bad

So, remember just 24 hours ago when we said that we weren’t buying all of the ridiculous numbers being floated out there because we expected the models to shift the storm a bit eastward? Yeah, the opposite happened.

Hey, we’re the first ones to admit when we are wr….wro…..wro….when our forecast starts going off the track. We wait until we’re fairly sure we’ve got a good forecast before we publish, because we want you to have the best info available. Well, in this case, that didn’t work out. Luckily, we still haven’t gotten into the storm, so we have time to fix things.

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Forecast for the storm based on the GFS model. Loop provided by the College of DuPage.

The basics that we outlined last night still hold true. Low pressure will move up the East Coast and rapidly intensify, passing south and east of Cape Cod later Tuesday. Strong winds are likely, especially along the coast. Sustained winds of 20-30 mph with gusts to 50 mph inland and possibly 70 mph along the coast. We may have understated the coastal flood threat a bit, but still, any coastal flooding will be minor in nature and confined to right around high tide.

Even the timing is still close to what we were thinking last night. Precipitation should develop near or just after midnight, and quickly get heavy. Blizzard conditions are likely, mainly along the coastline, from daybreak through early afternoon. Snowfall should start to lighten up after midday, but likely doesn’t completely end until late evening or even close to midnight Tuesday night.

That brings us to the snowfall amounts. There are still some models that are showing amounts that border on ridiculous. As you should know by know, our forecasts, while filled with sarcasm and satire, try to be level-headed, not ridiculous. How much can you expect?

Outside of I-495: 6-12″
Merrimack Valley/Southern NH/NH Seacoast: 8-14″
Most of the remainder of Eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island: 12-18″

The “jackpot” is likely to be across portions of Plymouth County and onto Cape Cod, where some totals of 18 to perhaps 24″ are possible. The big question here is whether any rain mixes in. This is especially possibly across the Outer Cape and Nantucket. If there is any rain, that will knock accumulations down.

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The GFS model is still the closest to our current thinking for snowfall amounts. Image provided by Pivotal Weather.

Once the storm moves out, an upper-level low pressure area may trigger additional snow showers on Wednesday and again Thursday (and possibly Friday too). Oh, and since you’re all sick of snowstorms by now, depending on which model you believe, we could have as many as 3 more between now and the end of March. We’ll worry about each of those as they become a threat (or don’t).

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Heavy Rain/Snow, Weekly Outlook, Winter Weather

Weekly Outlook: March 12-18, 2018

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Another week, another nor’easter. Once again, the hype train has left the station and is heading down the track at top speed. Without further delay, let’s get right to it.

Low pressure moving across the Tennessee Valley Sunday night will redevelop off the South Carolina coastline early Monday, then head up the East Coast. The storm will pass south and east of Cape Cod while rapidly intensifying. As is usually the case, this will bring strong winds and snow to the region. Obviously, the strength of the winds and the amount of snow will be dependent on how close the storm passes to New England, among other things. As you probably heard on Sunday, the vast majority of media outlets, as well as all of the Facebook Forecasters, and even the National Weather Service, are calling for very heavy snowfall from this storm. The reason for this is that many of the models are forecasting these amounts. Well, as a noted colleague has said in the past – “If the models were as good as everyone thinks, there would be no need for meteorologists”. Oh, we still think there will be some heavy snow, and we’re expecting plowable amounts, but let’s pump the brakes on the talk of “1-2 feet” or “12-18 inches”, or our personal favorite cop-out “10-14 inches+” (adding the plus so that if anything higher than that falls you can claim that your forecast was accurate).

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GFS forecast for the progression of the storm on Tuesday. Loop provided by Tropical Tidbits.

Before the storm arrives, Monday will be a generally cloudy day, with temperatures right around where they should be in mid-March. Winds will start to pick up in the evening, and for most of the day on Tuesday, we’re looking at northeast winds of 20-30 mph, with gusts to 40-50 mph inland, and 60-70 mph at the coast. Yes, this may take down some additional trees, but coastal flooding will not be a problem this time, as tides are significantly lower than they were a week ago.

As for the snow, it should develop around midnight, give or take an hour or two, and quickly become steady and heavy. Heavy snow will continue into the morning, then lighten up a bit in the afternoon, winding down in the evening.  If you can work from home on Tuesday, we’d recommend it. Travel will be extremely difficult in the morning, as snow could be falling at the rate of an inch an hour or more, and it will be accompanied by strong winds, creating blizzard conditions at times.

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Official definition of a blizzard. Note, snowfall accumulations do not factor into this. Image provided by WCVB-Boston.

 

As for how much, well, as we mentioned above, we’re not going with the big amounts that many others are. Why? Well, for one, a portion of that snow is going to fall during the daytime. At this time of year, the sun angle is strong enough (equivalent to the end of September), then unless it’s falling heavily, it will have trouble accumulating. Now, it will be falling heavily in the morning, but probably not as heavily in the afternoon. So, you can slice a little off of those model snow maps right there. Another reason is that we expect the models to shift a little more with the track slightly farther offshore. That has been the trend during the day today, and if that continues, it will result in lighter amounts. Yes, unlike the Facebook Forecasters who just take the what the models say exactly and call it a forecast, we use experience and education to figure out where the models are likely in error, and adjust accordingly. As for amounts, that likely means a general 8-12 inches across most of the region, with isolated heavier totals, especially across southeastern Massachusetts and the Cape. Across the Outer Cape and Nantucket, there is the possibility of some rain mixing in, which would keep accumulations lower.

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The snowfall forecast from the Sunday late-afternoon run of the GFS is closest to our thinking for the next storm. Image provided by Pivotal Weather.

Once the system pulls away, an upper-level low will move into the region on Wednesday, keeping plenty of clouds in place, with some additional snow showers possible. The upper-level low may linger into Thursday, with only a little more sunshine, and a slightly lower chance for snow showers. High pressure finally starts to build in for Friday and Saturday. By Sunday, the next system approaches the region. Right now, this system looks warmer, with rain, but given the way this month has gone, does anyone wanna bet that it stays that way? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

Monday: Any early sunshine disappears behind increasing clouds. High 37-44.

Monday night: Becoming windy with snow developing, becoming heavy at times. Low 26-33.

Tuesday: Windy with snow, heavy at times in the morning, tapering off late in the day. High 29-36.

Tuesday night: Snow ending in the evening, remaining mostly cloudy with winds gradually diminishing. Low 24-31.

Wednesday: Partly to mostly cloudy and breezy with more snow showers developing. High 32-39.

Thursday: More clouds than sunshine, breezy, chance for a few snow showers. High 34-41.

Friday: A mix of sun and clouds, still breezy, slight chance for another snow shower. High 33-40.

Saturday: Partly to mostly sunny. High 37-44.

Sunday: Becoming cloudy with a chance of rain or snow showers. High 41-48.

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Heavy Rain/Snow, Winter Weather

The Lion Roars Again

 

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You’re heard the phrase a million times: “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.” Well, the first half of that statement certainly was accurate this year, as much of the Northeast took a beating from last Friday’s storm. While many places are still trying to recover, we’ve got another one on our doorstep, and this one is promising to be more white than wet for much of the region.

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Forecast for the storm based on the High-Resolution NAM model. While not exactly what we’re thinking, this model is probably closest to our thoughts on how the system will play out. Loop provided by Tropical Tidbits.

The low pressure system that brought blizzard conditions to the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest over the past 36-48 hours will cross the Ohio Valley this afternoon and evening. By tonight, a secondary area of low pressure will develop off the North Carolina coast, and rapidly strengthen as it heads up the East Coast. It will likely pass very close to, possibly right over Cape Cod late Wednesday night, then move into the Gulf of Maine on Thursday. The exact track of the system will play a gigantic role in determining how far inland the rain/snow line penetrates. Some models keep the storm south and east of Nantucket, which could keep the rain/snow line confined to southeastern Massachusetts. Some models bring the storm across southeastern Massachusetts, with the rain/snow line getting as far inland as Springfield, MA and Manchester, NH. These are the two extremes, and much like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, we’re looking for something more in the middle.

There are a few different aspects of this storm that we need to worry about, depending on where you are located – strong winds, heavy rain, and heavy snow. We’ll start with the winds.

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Peak wind gusts as predicted by the High Resolution NAM model for 8pm Thursday evening. Wind gusts in excess of 40 mph are possible across most of the region, with gusts of 50-60 mph along the coast. Image provided by Weathermodels.com

Many parts of the region, especially along the coast and in southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island are already sensitive to hearing a forecast for strong winds, after last Friday’s system took down so many trees and knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of residents. Thankfully, winds won’t be as strong with this storm, but they’ll still be capable of causing damage, especially to trees already weakened by the last storm. Winds will pick up during the day on Wednesday, likely peaking Wednesday night into early Thursday. Sustained winds of 25-40 mph, with gusts to 60 mph are expected,especially along the coast. Luckily, tides are not as high as they were a few days ago, so coastal flooding isn’t as much of a concern, though some splashover is certainly possible around the time of high tide. As the storm passes by early Thursday, winds will shift into the northwest and start to ease. However, this storm will likely move into Atlantic Canada and not move much for a few days, so we may still be dealing with gusty winds (just not as strong), right through Friday.

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Rainfall forecast from the High Resolution NAM model through Thursday afternoon. Image provided by WeatherBell.

Next up is heavy rain. As we mentioned earlier, the rain/snow line is still a big question. However, in areas that stay all rain or mostly rain, such as Cape Cod, parts of southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, rainfall will be heavy. Many places could see more than an inch of rain, possibly even 2 inches in spots. These are areas that saw 2 to as much as 5 inches of rain from the last storm. The ground is still saturated in parts of the region, and most of the rivers and streams remain fairly high. If you add another 1 to perhaps 2 inches of rain in a short period of time, you’re looking at more flooding in some areas.

Now, to the part that most of you want to know about – heavy snow. As the last paragraph and the map above show, this system will contain plenty of moisture. Away from the coast, temperatures will be near or just below freezing. That means that moisture will fall in the form of heavy, wet snow. The general rule of thumb is that 1 inch of rain equals about 10 inches of snow, but that is dependent on temperature. That’s why when temperatures are in the teens you get a fluffier snow where 1 inch of rain could mean 20 inches of snow. In cases like this, where temperatures will be close to freezing, that ratio could be closer to 8-to-1 (or even lower). Still, even at 8-to-1, you only need an inch and a half of rain to get a foot of snow. Complicating things is the rain/snow line. Places that see rain mix in will get significantly less snow than nearby areas that have no rain at all. Our best estimate right now is that the rain/snow line gets as far inland as Interstate 95, possibly a few miles farther. As the system passes by on its way into the Gulf of Maine on Thursday, that rain/snow line will crash southeastward towards the coast, changing everyone back over to snow before everything winds down Thursday afternoon. So, what does that mean for amounts?

Cape Cod/Southeastern Massachusetts: Less than 1″
I-95 corridor: 2-6″ (highly dependent on the rain/snow line)
MetroWest/NH Seacoast: 6-12″ (lightest amounts south & east where some rain could mix in)
Merrimack Valley/Southern NH: 8-14″, isolated heavier totals.

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The snowfall forecast from the NAM is probably closest to our thinking right now. Image provided by Pivotal Weather.

Finally, there’s the timing of this system. Snow will develop across the region around midday Wednesday, give or take an hour or two. Due to the higher sun angle at this time of year, it will have trouble accumulating on pavement at first, though grassy areas could see some accumulation. The snow will quickly change to rain across southeastern Mass, southern Rhode Island, and Cape Cod. The rain/snow line will continue moving northwestward, likely reaching the I-95 corridor near the evening rush hour. At the same time, the steadier and heavier precipitation will arrive. During Wednesday evening and night, snowfall may accumulate at the rate of an inch or more per hour. If you don’t have to be out Wednesday night north and west of Boston, then don’t. Driving conditions will likely be rather poor. The rain/snow line will crash to the coast early Thursday morning, with the steadiest precipitation winding down towards daybreak. Occasional snow showers may continue off and on through the afternoon, but most of the accumulating snow should be done in the morning. Expect a lot of school cancellations on Thursday, especially north and west of Boston.

If you’re wondering if this is winter’s last gasp – don’t count on it. Some of the models show the potential for another system early next week, but it’s still several days away, and there’s plenty of disagreement among the models as to the evolution of that system. We’ll worry about that, if we need to, this weekend.

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