|Snow starting to accumulate in Windham, Maine. (Fox 23)|
Today New England will be hit by a fast-moving storm that will end up being a classic interior snowstorm for much of ski country and a much-needed rainstorm for the many other areas. Between the rain and the snow, a sloppy mess is forecast, with heavy wet snow.
I think if you asked 100 people around Boston what was the perfect snowstorm, many would say one that rains in the city but brings a lot of snow for skiers. The northern ski areas of New Hampshire and Maine will see 10 to 20 inches of snow later Thursday and into the first few hours of Friday. This will set up an epic skiing weekend there.
The storm will bring rain to much of southern New England. It could start and end as snow in the Route 128 corridor, and folks in Boston might see a few flakes early and late in the storm. But rain is the main player for the more urban centers of eastern Massachusetts. The biggest forecasting challenge is whether or not the cold air rushes in at the end of the storm and gives metro Boston a quick burst of snow between 8 and 11 this evening. That is why there is a coating to 2 inches in the forecast.
The map below shows how much snow I am expecting. Areas around Worcester will see a very wide range in snow totals. Since the rain-snow line will be nearby during the storm, you could go from an inch to over 6 inches of snow in a very short distance.
The storm will be rapidly intensifying on its way up to Maine, and this will cause winds to increase. As the storm becomes stronger, the falling pressure creates more wind. This is nature’s way of balancing the atmosphere. The more rapid the pressure change over a short distance and time, the faster the wind. This will be the case for a few hours tonight when winds will be strongest. A wind advisory is posted for the southern coast of Maine, and there is a high wind warning for Down East.
The black lines around the storm are called isobars, and the closer together these lines are, the more wind there is.
The precipitation will start late this morning, between 9 and noon, and end late this evening, between 9 and midnight. As you can see, this will be about a 12-hour window of rain and snow. The snow will fall at rates exceeding 1 inch per hour across far northern Worcester County, parts of northern Franklin County, and perhaps even the northwest corner of Middlesex County.
When you wake up Friday, the sun will shine and temperatures won’t be very cold. I expect highs tomorrow in the upper 30s to lower 40s, quite seasonable for the time of year.
Saturday is also dry and chilly. There may be some rain or snow showers on New Year’s Eve. This won’t be a big deal and the timing is still unsure. The first day of 2017 dawns bright and sunny with no big cold in sight.
Powerful nor'easter could dump more than a foot of snow on New England
A winter storm warning has been posted for much of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont through mid-day Friday.
National Weather Service meteorologist Andy Pohl says accumulations of a foot or more are expected inland but that a changeover to rain will reduce snowfall totals near the coast.
Roads in Vermont were snow covered and snow was falling at the rate of about 1 to 2 inches per hour by Thursday afternoon. No significant problems had been reported, but motorists were warned to expect hazardous driving conditions.
In New Hampshire, Gov. Maggie Hassan's office says the state's Emergency Operations Center will open at 1 p.m., with state officials closely monitoring the storm. The Department of Transportation says people should limit road travel after 6 p.m., when snow is expected to be heavy. Utility companies have crews on standby in preparation for power outages.
Pete Rogers, of Maine Emergency Management Agency, said it's important for residents to be prepared for heavy snow and strong winds.
The storm will pack a wallop. Pohl says the barometric pressure associated with the storm is projected to be the lowest since the Valentine's Day storm in 2014.
On New Hampshire's Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast, officials say there is "considerable danger" of an avalanche due to the storm.
The Vermont Health Department is reminding people that overexertion shoveling snow can lead to heart attacks. People should also keep heat vents clear of ice and snow.
New England bracing for blizzard conditions
The beginnings of what was forecast to be a powerful winter storm driving up to two feet of heavy, wet snow and howling winds across portions of New England began its slow march toward the region Thursday.
Snow was falling early Thursday in Erie, Pa., and Syracuse, N.Y. The storm was rolling toward New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine, where blizzard conditions were possible in areas bracing for a foot of snow — with twice that amount possible in some locations, the National Weather Service warned.
"Hazardous driving conditions with snow covered and slippery roads, along with poor visibilities are expected," the weather service said.
The storm will cause "extensive travel disruptions" Thursday and Friday, AccuWeather said.
A snowstorm is classified as a blizzard when it contains 35-mph winds and blowing or drifting snow that reduces visibility to a quarter-mile or less, with both conditions persisting for at least three hours.
Lighter amounts of snow are forecast for western and central portions of Massachusetts and Connecticut.
This is mainly a snow event for interior New England. The Boston and Providence areas won't see much accumulation, but winds could gust up to 50 mph. Most of the heavily populated Interstate-95 Northeast corridor south of Boston will likely see rain, according to the Weather Channel, which named the storm Fortis.
Elsewhere, cold winds blowing across the relatively mild Great Lakes will also dump snow in the snow belts of Ohio, New York State and Pennsylvania over the next couple of days. Many of these areas could tally 6 inches or more of snow by Friday night.
In the West, heavy snowfall will hit the higher elevations of the Washington Cascades, along with the mountains of northern Idaho and western Wyoming, the weather service said.