Dangerous and Historic Blizzard Hits Tuesday

NBC Boston’s Weather Team continues an Early Warning Weather Alert for Tuesday, as an historic and life-threatening storm bears down on New England.

Monday is the proverbial calm before the storm, with an early cold wind diminishing and wispy clouds gradually increasing late. New England’s afternoon, high-altitude wispy clouds are "cirrus clouds" – before advanced weather technology, these were a sign to New England farmers that a storm was on the way…and a thickening and lowering of the clouds confirmed the storm was moving in.

Of course, modern technology affords many more details, particularly this close in to the storm, like a forecast start time in Southern New England of 4 AM and 8 AM Tuesday.

The snow will start falling lightly, and may take a few hours to significantly intensify in the Boston area and the remainder of Eastern New England, but by late morning through mid-afternoon, snow rates of 2-5 inches per hour with occasional thundersnow is expected.

Though some dry air likely moves in aloft by 5 PM, cutting the tops right off of significant snow producing clouds and thereby reducing the snowfall rate, by that point 6 hours of average 3 inches per hour snow delivers the 18 inches forecast for many, though warmer air invading Southeast Massachusetts will cut down on amounts there.

Although some rain mixes in southeast, this doesn’t mean these areas will be immune to the wind. In fact, gusts to 70 mph are possible at the immediate coast of both Cape Cod and Outer Cape Ann, with 60 mph gusts along the remainder of the Eastern New England coastline, and 50 mph gusts penetrating deep inland, all the way to some of Central New England.

In fact, it’s the widespread snow and wind that will create widespread blizzard conditions, which is a big part of what separates this storm from many others – so much of New England will be impacted by big snow totals and damaging wind gusts. Of course, this means a few highlighted concerns that truly can prove to be life-threatening if not handled correctly: road travel, power outages, digging out and coastal flooding.

This time around, the coastal flooding will be the least impactful of those highlighted concerns, namely because the worst of the wind is likely to come after the early afternoon high tide Tuesday, limiting flood impact to minor or moderate at vulnerable east and northeast facing coasts.

Road travel, on the other hand, is one of our biggest concerns – conditions with snow and wind will make travel disorienting and nearly impossible Tuesday midday through afternoon. Those who must travel should be sure to have a winter driving safety kit of blanket, water, small shovel and charged cell phone.

Power outages won’t impact every community, but will occur both inland and at the coast, and those who use medical devices or other vital powered equipment should have generators at the ready. Power outages may last a couple of days for some select communities given the volume of snow, though power restoration from a snowstorm is quicker than from an ice storm, thankfully.

Finally, this storm will be what I refer to as a "Community Storm" – one in which some of us will need to help our New England neighbor out. For most of the region, the snow will be heavy, and there will be a lot of it – this will make shoveling a stressful task that will tax the body, and those not in the best of physical shape will need help digging out.

The storm wraps up by Tuesday night, and Wednesday looks quieter for most with some lingering snow showers in the mountains. As always, stay tuned to NBC Boston and necn on television and online for continued weather analysis, forecasts and information.




The National Weather Service in Taunton issued a blizzard watch for Boston and parts of coastal Massachusetts as well as a winter storm watch for “everywhere else” from late Monday night through late Tuesday night.

In New England, the blizzard watch is also in effect for Quincy, Brockton, Plymouth, Fall River, New Bedford, Mattapoisett, and areas along the Rhode Island and Connecticut coasts.

Forecasters across the region have their eyes on the tracking of Tuesday’s storm. And while the projected snowfall is far from locked-in, forecasters expect totals to reach a foot (or potentially more) across Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, as well as parts of southern Maine and New Hampshire.

The service already predicts heavy, rapidly accumulating snow, reduced visibility, and strong winds of 25 to 35 miles per hour with gusts over 50 miles per hour. Across most of Massachusetts, snowfall is expected to begin early Tuesday morning — around 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. — and taper off sometime in the evening.

“The heavy snow will make many roads impassable,” the service forecasted early Sunday. “In addition strong winds may lead to blowing and drifting snow, reduced visibility, and power outages.”


Beyond The Forecast: Over A Foot Of Snow Tuesday

BOSTON (CBS) — Here we go! Forecast models have consistently been spitting out high snow totals for the last few days. Now that the track is becoming more clear, it’s time to talk totals!

Totals

Going 12-18” for pretty much everyone Tuesday.

The Cape is not a lock-in with the smaller totals there. And the lines may move farther northwest or southeast depending on updated model data.

Looks like the islands will get more of a wintry mix for a period of time as the low center moves over, or very close to those spots Tuesday night. With a slight change in track, the projected snow total numbers across the Cape may completely change and the cutoff will be sharp. So stay tuned!

Timing

Snow spreads from southwest to northeast between 5 and 8 a.m. Tuesday. Snow reaches Boston between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. Then bands of heavy snow will continue to put down widespread 2-4” per hour snowfall rates in the afternoon. We may even get some thundersnow.

The winds crank up after noon Tuesday. Blowing and drifting and blizzard conditions expected across eastern Massachusetts.

Damage and power outages may be widespread. Dangerous travel throughout Tuesday with almost no visibility.

Wind

Wind starts ramping up Tuesday afternoon as the center of the storm moves closer to New England. Cape Cod and islands could see 55-65 m.p.h. gusts, 45-55 m.p.h. across coastal Massachusetts, Boston & Cape Ann, slightly lower wind speeds inland.

Still widespread damage and outages can be expected. Snow will be pastier consistency southeast and that will lead to perhaps more outages or damage across the Cape. Fluffier snow northwest.

Coastal Flooding

Watching two high-tides with this storm that may produce flooding.

The first will be between 1 & 2 p.m.

The next 1-2 a.m. Wednesday morning. Wave heights of 5-10 feet with a northeast wind during that 1-2 p.m. high tide. Plan for a surge of 2-3 feet, significant beach erosion, minor to pockets of moderate flooding along coastal roads and neighborhoods. Peak wave heights (15-25 feet) may actually occur during low tide Tuesday evening, into the overnight high tide with the wind direction north, northwest.

So far, a coastal flood watch is up for the Tuesday afternoon high tide. Tides will be astronomically high due to Sunday’s full moon.

We will keep tweaking the snow total map (mainly for areas southeast) over the next couple days. Stay tuned for more details from the WBZ-TV weather team, and stay safe!

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