Blizzard Verified In Parts of Massachusetts, What About Rhode Island?

UPDATE: Plymouth MA, Falmouth MA, and Hyannis MA have now both verified officially as blizzards!

As of around 1:45PM, there were over 27 thousand customers affected by power outages in Rhode Island.  There have been numerous reports of trees falling, branches down, and power outages.  Although some of the snow falling has turned a little lighter in consistency, it came down as a heavy and wet snow this morning.  That has been clinging to trees and branches leading to a lot of the tree damage.

Snow continues to come down at various intensities.  In some locations it’s coming down so hard in some locations that it’s tough to see! Here is a look at some updated snowfall numbers…some of these are adding up quickly!

Here is our updated snowfall accumulation map:

So when all is said and done with this storm, will this end up being called a blizzard?

Here is the technical definition of a blizzard; the following is from a post-storm write up from the Boston National Weather Service from a past blizzard:

“The definition of a blizzard is that falling and/or blowing snow
reduces visibility to below 1/4 mile along with sustained winds or
winds that frequently gust to 35 mph or more, and that these are
the predominant reported conditions for 3 consecutive hours.

When reviewing whether a particular observation location had
blizzard conditions, we counted visibilities equal to 1/4 mile since
that is often quite low for an automated visibility sensor to detect.”

So what is the simple way to sum this up? It has to be snowing really hard, and be really windy, for a really long time.

I think there will certainly be areas where it “looks” like a blizzard with driving winds, heavy snow, and white-out conditions.  So there will be times of “blizzard-like” conditions, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a blizzard.

Here is a look so far at the hourly observations from TF Green Airport:

10:51 N 32 G 46     0.25 Visibility    Heavy Snow Freezing Fog and Windy
09:51 N 28 G 47     0.25 Visibility    Heavy Snow Fog and Windy
08:51 N 26 G 37     0.25 Visibility    Light Snow Fog/Mist and Windy
07:51 N 26 G 39     0.25 Visibility    Snow Fog and Windy

Based on the information above, it’s possible we might verify a blizzard at TF Green…..we’ll have to see what the official word is from the National Weather Service.  There may be some observations in between the hours when visibility may have come up.

I checked out the observations from Newport and Westerly, but so far, it doesn’t look like blizzard conditions have been met.  However, several very heavy bands of snow and wind have been moving across the area:

You can see one of the challenges is finding an observing station that is close enough to the blizzard conditions.  This storm is far from over, so there will likely be several areas that officially qualify for a blizzard by the time the storm is over.

-Pete Mangione

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