Not Much Change…A Real Mess On Our Hands

By Meteorologist Joe Joyce, WBZ-TV

It is safe to say the word is out on this one. It is still very early in the game so  the whos, wheres, the how much’s will have to wait…but it is pretty clear that this storm is going to have a major impact for a good portion of the nation with a mix of snow, sleet, ice and rain. Heavy snow will be a problem, but where we have freezing rain…the travel will become even more dangerous for commuters.

Clouds rolling through this morning as another shortwave pushes through. Scattered flurries are possible with the passage of an arctic front which will be off the coast this afternoon with clearing skies later in the day. Cold air settles in overnight with lows in the single digits and teens, NW valleys below zero. Arctic sunshine in place for Monday with highs in the teens and Lwr 20’s.

Our storm is currently in California so we have some real estate to cover before the main event arrives. As you know, we are tracking two waves of precipitation. Cold arctic air is pressing south thanks to Canadian High pressure with warm air lifting  north out of the Gulf of Mexico as upper level winds begin to direct this Storm from the Gulf to the Ohio Valley. The clashing of these two airmasses will become the boundary from which this storm will feed and eventually track as the lighter warmer air over rides the colder heavier air at the ground. This set up has ice storm written all over it where it mixes…but there will be plenty that see just a heavy snow too.

Our first wave along this battle zone arrive Tuesday during the mid-late morning. Temp profiles look cold enough to support snow for most of the day. This will be a problem for many area schools. Do they cancel school for two days in a row? Poor parents. What to do? The snow will fill in fast Tuesday…become heavier by midday, so by the afternoon commute home..there will be several inches of snow on the ground. Do you send the buses and kids out in it? Why risk it?  This will be a game time call obviously. Tuesday’s morning commute will be dry, but evening commute will be a mess with snow covered road and the potential for 3-5″ of snow on the ground by 7 PM. This initial wave will pull away Tuesday night and may even mix with sleet and light rain as the precipitation begins to lighten and taper off.

Here lies the problem…The main event has not even started yet. Round #2 fills back in by dawn on Wednesday. More commuting nightmares for those who must get to work.  By this time, our storm will have tracked from Texas to the Ohio valley as an intensifying low. Heavy snows will be found on the northern side of the low…from Missouri, to Iowa, to Illinois, to Michigan. As warm air becomes entrained into the low in the midlevels between 850-800 mb, that pink transition line between snow and rain will mean business! A significant sleet and freezing rain storm is likely just south of the areas which will be getting the heaviest snow. Southern, Missouri, S. Illinois, S. Indiana, Ohio and PA all seem like pretty good bets to have to deal with this icy mix.

I know what you are thinking…who cares! What about us? New England is going to be a really close call. Just a few miles in the track will have extreme differences in Ptype, amounts, and impact. The Low is going to be LOADED with moisture from the Gulf. It is going to be a flat out nasty day. I am watching the influx of warmth some of our models are showing in the mid levels with warm air advection around the low.  Most have the 0 line at 850 going to the Mass Pike and stalling and then collapsing to the coast later. The GFS and JMA have been warmer, but I suspect will start to trend colder and come closer in line with the Euro and the GEM.

By Dawn on Wednesday, I am expecting snow to be falling along and north of the Pike, with freezing rain and sleet line moving through CT, RI and southeast MA. It will likely be raining on the Cape & islands by then. How far north this mix line goes is the real question, and I don’t think anyone really knows at this point. I think the best chance sleet and freezing rain will be south and along the Pike with the best chance of accumulating snow along and north of the Pike. Pretty straight forward, but again any change in warmth or track will have huge impacts to the forecast.

Boston is the real wild card as always. Anything goes here as the boundary will likely set up right at the coast. Forecast for Boston: A Sloppy mess!  Southeast MA will likely have a time of a change to plain rain especially at the coast  Wednesday morning through midday into the afternoon. As the storm tracks right along the south coast, where there is mixing…a transition back to sleet and eventually back to snow is likely by sunset with the potential for a few inches of snow on top of the slop which just fell.

Northern and Central New England will likely remain cold enough for all snow which will be heavy, wet and compact. Snowfall accumulations will range from 12-18″ where it is all snow away from the mix line. Jack pots appear to be Southern VT, Southern, NH, NW MA….this could all shift towards the pike if the cold air hold stronger. Snow ends Wednesday night.

Let me add there is about 15-30″ of snow in the ground. In that snow there is about 3-5″ of water which put and an incredible weight per square foot especially on these flat rooftops. Add another 1-2″ of water equivalent on top of what is in place we may start to see some bigger problems ahead for some homes. A good weekend to clear the vulnerable rooftops.

People have been asking me about flooding. What happens with a big warm up and rainstorms and all this water in the snow is released? I guess that is always possible…but I do not see much warmth in this pattern for at least the next 20 days…so I am hoping for a gradual break down of this snow… We do have to keep in mind…the higher the snow piles, the more vulnerable we become to flooding someday. Rivers will be running awfully high come spring. But for now…let’s just hope for the best.

Another Arctic high builds in behind the storm providing very cold air to end the week. Another piece of energy coming out of the Gulf and tracking up the coast by next Saturday will have to be watched closely too! Could that hit? Maybe…at least a glancing graze accumulating snow in southern New England. Keep an eye on it! Then after that…quite possibly the coldest air of the winter builds back in by the 9th or 10th and we will likely see another storm somewhere around there as well. Winter is showing no signs of mercy for now.  Plenty of weather to sort out between now and then.

Season Snow Totals so far:

Hartford, CT 71.2 inches
Worcester, MA 61.6 inches
Boston, MA 60.3 inches
New York City Central Park 56.1 inches
Bridgeport, CT 54.4 inches

  • retrac

    good scoop Joe. I keep watching the 850 temps run to run and to your point…I’m in Holden and it’s gonna be close. I really don’t know what to think still. I’m raking off my roof regardless.

  • JimmyJames

    Great blog Joe and I am hoping for more snow than ice. The areas with the icing I see at the very least a MODERATE IMPACT and where it does stay all snow a MAJOR Snowfall is certainly possible
    For Tuesday I am thinking a MODERATE Snowfall which is a 2 on the 1-4 Snow Index.

  • Scott

    Thanks Joe for the detailed analysis.
    The 12z GFS doesn’t have the 540 line make it past the pike.
    Deffinitly a close call.

  • Scott

    also the 12z GFS is a tad colder than the 06z run.

  • JimmyJames

    Scott I want to see that line further south because I am not a fan of ice and with the snow on top of roofs and add ice to that this is not good. As I said earlier today I am having someone come over and take the snow off my roof.

  • southshoretom

    could anyone see else see this for a time Wed afternoon (just at the surface)

    Nantucket….S or SE wind…temp jumping to 45F to 50F.
    Plymouth…..E or a little but S of E wind….temp rising slowly to the 40F mark for a few hrs
    Boston…..NE if not NNE wind…temp struggling to max out at 34F or 35F for a few hrs
    all areas north and west of 128…temps holding in 20s, never makng it to freezing.

    • retrac

      I think you’re pretty close SST

      • Keith Hingham

        agreed…I I’m just hoping that we avoid any Freezing rain…snow and sleet are one thing.

  • Mr Frimpter

    Joe Thats a nice blog my man !!! Is THere any chance that from route 95 to the coast we could see mostly rain? THanks Joe Nice job

  • maria in dracut

    you and todd are great!, but how about more info on us poor souls in dracut and lowell ( i live in dracut) a lot of info about boston but hey what about us

  • Charlie

    Yes this is gonna be very close, I think alot of us will get around 4 inches on Tuesday, and Wed, I think Boston to Foxboro to Woonsocket mostly snow, just south of that line a 6-8 hr ice storm is possible with a turn back to snow, well south towards the canal sloppy snow and rain,

    • FranklinJaywx

      I live in Franklin and we always teeter on the edge of being all snow or going to a mix. I dont want RAIN.

      • Rsquared44

        I was born and raised there in Franklin. Used to be in a real snow belt there at times in ’70s and ’80s.

  • retrac

    I hear you about the 540 line Scott but watch the 800-850mb temps and the wind direction at those heights. Since this is largely an overrunning event, that’s where the action will be.

    • Scott

      yea i looked at those too, even that line didn’t make it past the pike.

  • smack

    I am hoping for the colder scenario. Rather see plain snow than ice and freezing rain. That could be a disaster. Let’s keep hoping that low tracks more south.

    • retrac

      I couldn’t agree more smack. Margusity thinks GFS is too warm still which appears to be in line with what Joe thinks too.

  • joejoycewbz

    Dracut will likely remain all snow…if things remain as they look today. 8-12″ seems like a safe bet..

  • Scott

    i can agree on how the GFS is too warm based on the strong highs to the north of us. if the GFS does get a lot colder, SNE would be getting in all the action.
    4 days away, who knows what will happen.

  • Charlie

    I think this is a trend colder and we will have full consensus by tonight for Tue, and by morning for the Wed storm, I think in the end the snow pack will play a factor and this will be a snow/ice event, rain cc changing to snow

  • SD71

    Hey Joe!

    Great Blog!! I work in Westboro but commute from Natick. Are we looking at an ice storm for those locations and points in between on Wednesday?

  • MarkPHTR

    with all that has gone on this winter this looks like a major ice storm inside the i95 corridor,this event will be a real problem for us.

  • David White

    Thanks Joe, and everyone. If one takes the 15 day Accuweather ooutlook a bit sriously, it shows slightly milder temps for the weekend into the beginning of next week, followed by a colder stretch and then another warmup. But that’s way out. Doesn’t the normal coldest part of the winter end about midFebruary? Actually daytine average highs seem to be inchng up a degree or two every few days. I think Ionce hezrd that the aerage coldest day of the winter in Boston falls on January 24th or so. IIs that right?

  • David White

    Sorry for the typos! My question was doesn’t the normal average coldest day of the winter in Boston occur on January 24th or so?

  • philip

    If I had the decision about school on Tuesday, I would send the kids in a heartbeat…3-5″ of snow isn’t alll that much compared to previous storms and I would defintiely cancel school Wednesday and probably Thursday as well except for south coastal areas and the Cape. They would go to school all week as normal.

    • Rsquared44

      I am not arguing your point but 1 or 2 inches at the wrong time can cause major issues. It is all about timing and snow rates, not just amounts

  • brianhackett

    3-5 in of snow Tuesday then aquick change to Rain Wednesday. Don’t buy the mixing scenario. Boston/Coast never mixes. Wed will see a lot of Rain Worcester to Coast. An ice storm in Boston? Too much marine influence for that to ever happen. Going to be a lot of saddened snow lovers come Wednesday. I’m sticking with it. And I will be right! Everything based on history says Snow to Rain here…why argue that?

    • DS

      Again, sir. That smug tone! :-)

  • BaileyMan

    Good afternoon everyone,
    And yes, I am the real BaileyMan! At least I think I am? At this point even I am getting confused as to who is writing my blogs?! But it is the real deal now and this is how I THINK (at least currently) the forecast will go during the Tuesday to Thursday time period!
    Well here we go again. Another MAJOR STORM threatening New England. It has been a pretty long winter and at some point even us most avid winter storm enthusiasts may put up the white flag! No?

    • BaileyMan

      Anyway, as I mentioned yesterday along with many others on this blog and on the media outlets, there will be 2 parts to this storm scenario about to unfold. The first wave of storminess will start around midday Tuesday. Snow will indeed overspread New England from west to east. Temperatures will range 21 to 27 degrees across most of SNE Tuesday. Winds will freshen up from the east during the afternoon. Snow may fall moderately for a time Tuesday afternoon into the evening hours as warm air tries to override the cold air in place. The advection process will be widespread and a few areas may even see snow become briefly heavy for a time Tuesday afternoon and evening.

      • BaileyMan

        In any event, the snow should tapper off late Tuesday night followed by periodic snow showers after midnight.
        Lows will range from the upper teens to mid 20s across SNE and start to rise a bit Wednesday morning. Winds should become more NE Wednesday morning at 10 to 20mph. Total snowfall from the first round will be at least, 3 to 6 inches across the area. With the 3 inch amounts falling closer to southeast Ma and Cape Cod and closer to 4 to 6 inches elsewhere.

  • BaileyMan

    Any lull in the action will be short lived however. At some point Wednesday morning, snow and mix will redevelop across SNE. I expect snow to resume falling from northern portions of Connecticut and Rhode Island and north of those regions. This includes Boston and Worcester. Mix precipitation is likely to fall from about Taunton Ma south and east towards the Cape and, south of Providence Rhode Island and Hartford Connecticut. In those areas the mix may for a time change over to plain rain, especially in far southern coastal areas and Cape Cod and the islands.

    • BaileyMan

      Worcester north and west I expect mainly a snow event at this time. Whatever is falling from the sky will fall heavily at times with winds out of an easterly direction in southern portions of SNE and more east/northeast northern SNE and northward. The winds will be somewhat pronounced at 15 to 25mph and gusty (especially along the south shore areas of SNE).
      Temperatures will range from the mid 20s in central and northern Ma, to the low and mid 30s on Wednesday afternoon towards Cape Cod and the far southern portions of SNE.

  • Mazza

    I’m going to lean towards a colder solution now something gives me the feeling that the models will continue to trend colder.

  • BaileyMan

    Wednesday night and, especially, late at night, towards Thursday morning. I expect the snow, mix and/or rain to fall heavy at times with east to northeasterly winds shifting around to the north/northeast around midnight in all of SNE. Also by late night I expect the precipitation to have changed over to all snow across most if not, all of SNE. Lows will fall back to 18 to 26 across all of SNE.
    Thursday morning, I expect snow to be falling across all of SNE and windy conditions. Winds North/Northeast at 15 to 25mph and higher gusts. Snow should tapper off and ends from west to east in the late morning or, early afternoon.

    • BaileyMan

      With a few snow showers lingering during the afternoon. Highs will range from 21 to 27 degrees from north central ma down to the south coastal areas.
      After all is said and done, look for 12 to 20 inches of snow potential north of the mass pike. The 12 inches closer to the pike and 20 inches in northern Worcester County and areas north of there. Boston will see significant snowfall with some sleet and freezing rain and perhaps even a bit of rain in the mix but a 12 inch snowfall is still possible. Worcester is a real tough call.

      • BaileyMan

        The point is, If mixing occurs in Worcester I see 11 to 14 inches possible. However, if it remains all snow in Worcester and north? Then 14 to 20 inches could fall there! It will be a very tight call between all snow, rain and/or mix everywhere. The mix precipitation band will be narrow but important to say the least!

    • jane

      If you are so great why are you not working as a local met?

  • hcarool

    BaileyMan, what do you think the snow amounts would be for the region?

    • BaileyMan

      my blog did not answer you?

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