Major Nor’easter Tuesday? It’s Possible!

Crocuses, tulips and daffodils may be popping out of the ground already, but winter is definitely not done.  The warm weather in recent weeks here in Southern New England has spread spring fever from Westerly to Fairhaven.  After some snow Friday and a frigidly cold weekend, we could be looking at a major nor’easter here on Tuesday.

A very energetic jet stream, dipping out of Canada and into the Mid-Atlantic, could help develop a powerful storm off the East Coast.  Energy from the jet could merge with moisture off the Florida coast on Monday, forming a storm which may only slowly move northeastward through the day on Tuesday.  In fact, we could still see the impacts from this potential storm on Wednesday morning.  With this storm, we could see powerful winds.  Power outages, coastal flooding and beach erosion are all possible.

There are lots of questions which need to be answered with this storm.  While confidence is growing the storm will develop, we don’t know the exact track.  As we all know, storm track means everything.  If the storm tracks close or over us, we could see more of a mix or even rain, but if the storm tracks farther away, we could see all snow.  If the storm travels over a sweet spot, called the benchmark (40°N 70°W), we could be looking at a major snowstorm.

Some early thinking…

It could be a slow mover! A weather block downstream in the atmosphere may force the storm to only slowly move northeastward. The snow could start early Tuesday morning and become quite heavy by late morning, lasting potentially through Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning.

A mix of sleet and rain is possible (usually Providence and areas south and east see that).  Again, this is very track-dependent.

Strong winds would seem likely.  This storm could be “bombing out” as it moves our way.  That means it’ll have a rapid drop in central surface pressure on the order of 24mb in 24 hours.  The lower the pressure, the stronger the winds.  Winds could be gusting 50mph+, leading to coastal flooding, wind damage and power outages.  And yes, with strong winds and heavy snow in place, we could potentially see a full-blown blizzard.

How much? We have NO idea.  This is still four days out.  The GFS (American) model has the storm moving right over RI/MA, and that track would bring a heavy snow initially, changing to sleet/rain.  The European model has a track farther offshore, which could give us a lot of snow.

There will be a lot to track through the weekend – be sure to keep checking back!

-Meteorologist T.J. Del Santo

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