Weekend Outlook: January 28-31, 2022

We’ve certainly got an eventful weekend coming up across the region.

Another chilly night is expected as high pressure slides offshore, but clouds will start to move in, and temperatures may actually start to rise after midnight as winds shift into the south and southwest. Friday will feature plenty of clouds and somewhat milder temperatures, but an approaching cold front may produce a few snow showers during the afternoon. This brings us to the main event.

Winter Storm Watches are in effect for much of the coastal plain in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. Image provided by Pivotal Weather.

We’ll give you the general idea first, then get into specifics in the next paragraph or four. Low pressure will move up the East Coast Friday night and Saturday. There are still some questions as to exact track and strength, but we are narrowing the possibilities. At this point, it looks like the storm will track just south and east of Nantucket, which means that this will be all snow for everyone, except possibly Nantucket and the Outer Cape. The storm should pull away before daybreak Sunday, with clearing Sunday afternoon, then high pressure builds in with sunshine and colder weather on Monday.

There is still disagreement among the models as to how close the low gets to Nantucket. Images provided by Pivotal Weather.

Now, let’s get to the details of the storm. As winds shift into the northeast Friday evening, the onshore flow may produce some flurries or snow showers across the region, but these won’t do much more than whiten the ground. The steady snow will spread across the region between 2 and 5am. Between about 10am and 10pm, we’ll have snow falling moderate to heavy at times, especially near the coast and south of Boston. There will be some embedded bands of intense snowfall, falling at the rate of 1-3 inches an hour, but picking out where those will develop is a fool’s errand at this point. The snow should taper off in the evening, and end from west to east between 3 and 6am Sunday. We’ll detail the amounts in a bit, as snow is not the only concern with this system.

As the storm rapidly intensifies, winds will ramp up, with sustained winds of 15-25 mph inland, and 20-40 mph along the coast and south of Boston. Wind gusts in excess of 50-60 mph are possible, especially across Cape Cod and the Islands. This will result in significant blowing and drifting snow, with blizzard conditions possible. It also will increase the threat for power outages, with trees and power lines coming down. The winds, combined with astronomical high tides (Tuesday is the New Moon), will result in coastal flooding, possibly moderate to major coastal flooding, especially at east and northeast-facing coastlines.

Wind gusts of 40-50 mph are likely across the region. Image provided by Weathermodels.com

Another factor will be temperatures. We mentioned that this will be all snow for nearly all of the region, but it’s looking like it’ll be a fluffy snow for many of us. This is both good and bad. It’s good, because it makes it a lot easier to clean up, but bad, because it allows the snow to pile up even faster. The reason it will be a fluffy snow is because it’s going to be quite chilly. Areas north and west of Boston may stay in the teens all day Saturday, with 20s from Boston southward. Add in the strong winds, and you’re looking at wind chills in the single numbers and below zero. Keep that in mind if you’re going to try and clean up the driveway a few times during the storm.

OK, we’ve gone over the timing, the winds, the coastal flooding, the temperatures, did we miss anything? Oh yeah, how much to expect. You’ve probably seen or heard that there are many models forecasting some outrageous amounts of snow. Well, as is usually the case, you won’t find that here. Oh, we’re still expecting a rather potent storm, but if you really expect widespread 2-3 feet, then we’re going to disappoint you. Since we’re still 36 hours from the start of the storm, this could still change, and we’ll likely issue another blog post tomorrow, but here’s our current thinking:

Central NH (Lebanon/Concord): 2-6″
Southern NH/Central MA (Manchester/Nashua/Fitchburg): 5-10″
Merrimack Valley/495 Belt/NH Seacoast (Portsmouth/Haverhill/Lowell/Framingham): 8-12″
I-95 corridor (Beverly/Boston/Providence): 10-15″
Southeastern MA/Cape Cod (Brockton/Plymouth/Taunton/Fall River): 12-18″ with some totals in excess of 20″ possible.

The National Blend of Models is fairly close to our thoughts in terms of snowfall. Image provided by Weathermodels.com

Thursday night: Becoming partly to mostly cloudy. Low 15-22, but temperatures may start to rise after midnight.

Friday: Cloudy with a chance of snow showers. High 30-37.

Friday night: Snow showers becoming a steady light snow, becoming breezy. Low 18-25 north and west of Boston, 26-33 south.

Saturday: Windy with snow, heavy at times. Temperatures will hold steady or drop during the day.

Saturday night: Snow tapers off, ending before daybreak, winds gradually diminish. Low 3-10.

Sunday: Gradual clearing, still breezy. High 19-26.

Sunday night: Clear to partly cloudy. Low 2-9.

Monday: Partly to mostly sunny. High 25-32.

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