Major Snow Storm for Tuesday

The ingredients continue to come together for a major snow storm here in New England.  As discussed in previous blog posts, a very energetic jet stream will help carve out a strong, rapidly intensifying storm system off the east coast.  That storm will move from Cape Hatteras to just southeast of Nantucket from Tuesday morning into Tuesday night.

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Outside of some fluctuations in forecast track, the forecast for Tuesday remains unchanged.  As we get closer to the time of the storm, we’ll get a clearer picture of snow amounts, precipitation types and wind strength.  Of course, once we can pinpoint those quantities, we’ll be able to give you a better idea about the impacts from the storm.  What we do know is that there will be major travel disruptions on Tuesday.  Here’s some of the latest info….

TIMING

The first flakes are still expected to fall between 4 and 8AM on Tuesday…it’ll likely become steady right away and start sticking to the roads right away.

If there is a “good” time for travel on Tuesday, it’s in the morning, but be aware that conditions will deteriorate rapidly Tuesday morning.  By late morning, snowfall rates could be on the order of 1-3″ per hour and winds will already be gusting to 50mph in Rhode Island.

Snow will continue to fall heavily across most of the area through the afternoon, but sleet could mix with the snow along the south coast.  That mixing will cut down on accumulations there.  Rain is possible on the Cape, so we aren’t expecting big accumulations there; however, a more easterly storm track could bring the heavy snow onto the Cape and Islands.

During the evening commute time, heavy snow and strong winds will continue and the accumulating snow may not end until late in the evening.

ACCUMULATIONS

We’ll break this up two ways.  In the first map below, we have a widespread area of 12-18″ covering most of Rhode Island and southeast Massachusetts.  Snowfall amounts drop off to the south and east where sleet and rain will cut down on the accumulations.  Still, a plowable snow is expected across Southern New England.

In this second map below, we’d like to point out a “potential” — the potential for 18″ or more in northern Rhode Island and northern Bristol County, MA.  Climatology tells us that a storm track like this one brings the heaviest of the snow almost always to the areas in white below.  In addition, it will be colder in this area, so the snow will be fluffier.  Liquid precipitation amounts could be between 1.0″ and 1.25″ in the area in white.  Typically, you can multiply the liquid precip by 10 which gives 10″ to 12.5″ of snow.   Again, this will be a fluffier snow, so we would need to multiply by 15 or 20 which could drive snow totals to 20″+.   We’re not saying this will happen, but something we’ll be monitoring.

WINDS

Expect strong winds to develop through Tuesday morning, gusting in excess of 60mph on Block Island and the Cape/Islands.  On the mainland of Rhode Island, gusts to 55mph are possible.  Wind damage is possible, and with a heavier snow near the coast, power outages will also be a concern.  The wind/snow combo will create poor visibility with white out conditions, at times.

Q&A

ANSWER:  A little “Inside Baseball…err Weather” now.  The NAM model is a mesoscale model among the suite of American models.  This far out, it’s not very good with storm tracks, but it’s something to consider.  The NAM brings the low right over Southern New England on Tuesday, and that would bring a big thump of snow at the start of the storm, then a mix, then rain.  That track seems unlikely given the developing jet stream pattern which will be in place.

 

 

 

 

ANSWER:  Very low.  Computer models have come a long way in just the past 10 years.  Their accuracy, while not perfect, is very good.  It’s not often the models completely bust on a storm…especially 48 hours out from the onset of a storm.

 

 

 

 

ANSWER:  No, slight fluctuations in storm track could make a big difference for that rain/snow line.  The models continue to show slight changes in the track.  Think of it this way:  if the storm track shifts 50 miles either way, that could alter the rain/snow line 50 miles either way (that’s pretty much our entire area).   So, to answer your question, we don’t have a high confidence in where the rain/snow line sets up….call it “moderate” confidence.

 

 

 

 

ANSWER:  Yes, in fact, 8-12″ is expected there in New Bedford.  Here’s how it is expected to play out there…  Snow starts 4-8am, becomes very heavy at times late morning into the early afternoon, then a changeover is expected.  The mix could last several hours…during the height of the storm! So, accumulations are expected to be much lower in the Whaling City.  After a mix, the precip will likely flip back over to snow.

 

 

 

 

 

ANSWER:  I wonder the same thing EVERY winter.  By the way, people trying to fly out of TF Green for warmer climes, early Tuesday flights should be OK, but anything after 9AM could be cancelled.

-Meteorologist T.J. Del Santo

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