Nor’Easter Knocking: Here Comes The Snow

By Terry Eliasen, Meteorologist, WBZ-TV Exec. Weather Producer

BOSTON (CBS) – Not much change at all in the forecast from last night…we are still in for a powerful and dangerous early season nor’easter. The most significant threat remains tree and power line damage from heavy, wet snow and strong winds. A secondary threat would be the potential for minor to moderate coastal flooding, particularly during the high tide overnight around 2AM. This will be an historic nor’easter likely breaking the record for most snow in October in all of the Major Northeast Cities, including Boston (1.1″, 2005) and Worcester (7.5″, 1979). Now for the details…

Check: Current Conditions | Interactive Radar | Maps | Weather Blog

Timeline: Again, not much change here either…the precipitation will begin early this afternoon to the south and mid to late afternoon to the north, as mainly rain for all of Eastern Massachusetts, a mix in higher elevations to the west. The intensity of the precipitation will increase rapidly over the next several hours and the rain/snow line will collapse to the south and east as colder air is drawn into the deepening storm on shifting winds to the north. By midnight it will be snowing just about everywhere with the exception of southeastern MA where it will continue to rain very heavily. The rain/snow line will collapse further southeast to around the Cape Cod Canal in the pre-dawn hours of Sunday morning before the storm system pulls away and the precipitation shuts off just after dawn.

Snow: There will be a very sharp gradient between the have and have-nots with this event…For instance, right along the immediate coast at Logan Airport there will likely be a minimal amount of snow, perhaps an inch or two of wet slush…just a mile or two inland in Cambridge or Brighton totals will ramp up quickly to 3″ or more…from 128 to 495 totals should range from 3″-6″…6-10″ is likely in a wide area of Southern New England including most of Western Middlesex County, all of Worcester County and all of Western MA and SW New Hampshire. The jackpot for snow amounts will be in the higher elevations (1,000ft and up) where a foot or more is possible…an early bonanza for ski areas. So to recap…An inch or less of slush on Cape Cod and immediate South Shore. 1-3″ in Boston and immediate North Shore. 3-6″ just a few miles inland to 128 to 495. 6-10″ from 495 and all areas north and west. 10-12″+ higher elevations above 1,000ft. The wildcard with this storm is the timing of the change from rain to snow along the coast and in the nearby suburbs…if it occurs just a few hours early, amounts could easily increase in the Boston Metro area. Snow will be a very heavy and wet consistency, compacting quickly and weighing down on tree limbs and wires.

Rain: Areas southeast of Boston and Providence will receive very heavy rainfall, many towns exceeding 2”. This will result in urban and poor drainage flooding and cause many rivers and streams to rise near bankful.

Wind: Winds will be out of the NE early in the storm gusting 25-50mph+ along the coastline and 25-35mph inland. Winds will shift to a more northerly direction later in the evening and at night and continue very strong, especially over Cape Cod and The Islands. This will pose a significant problem coupled with the heavy, wet snow and lots of foliage still on the trees. Tree and limb damage is almost certain and numerous power outages are expected. There will be a major leaf drop with this storm as well…most of Southern New England will go from near peak foliage conditions to bare in the span of 12 hours.

Coastal Flooding: The storm is coming during a new moon phase and very high astronomical tides. The good news is that the high tides times do not seem to line up with the brunt of the storm and NE winds. High tides are at 1:30PM Saturday afternoon and 2:00AM Sunday morning…the very beginning and tail end of the storm. This will prevent what could have been a major coastal flooding event. Minor coastal flooding is still likely during this afternoons high tide but luckily this tide occurs before the winds start to crank up. The high tide tonight is a bit more of a concern and we are expecting minor to moderate coastal flooding between 11pm and 5am. While this tide is a bit lower astronomically speaking, 10-20 foot seas just offshore and powerful winds will cause pockets of moderate flooding at the coast, especially for the more northerly facing coastline as winds will have shifted by that point.

This storm will affect the entire Northeastern Coastline from the Mid Atlantic to New England…Heavy rain changing to snow in areas like New Jersey and New York City and heavy snows inland…the greatest affects however will be felt right here in Southern New England…lucky us.

  • Steve

    Hi Terry To say that this stom will be dangerous is an abuse of power,you guys are high on your storm totals for one thing ,anywhere inside 495 is going to be way to warm to support more than a few inches on the grass.The ocean is much to warm and you guys know this. Channel 5 is more in line with what will happen.Wbz weather info has really taken a downward turn over the last few years,when Barry retires your ratings will go way down,if they have not already.

  • David White

    Thanks Terry.

    We shall see what happens.

    Is Barry retiring? When will he do his last broadcast. A special thank you if not a party should be given to him by his fans (myself included) for his good wrk over the years. And you, Melissa, Joe, and Todd are doing the best you can considering that models and even the atmosphere can be fickle at times. I wish the on line forum with you could be revived so we can send in questions about our weather.

    I would only add that if forecasters were to go more by trends in this upcoming storm–it might take longer than predicted for inside 128 to shift over to snow. As long as the wind is from the northeast with the warm Atlantic, it should stay mainly rain there. The question is when the wind shifts more northerly, how much longer will the precept. continue in Boston? We shall see!

  • Joe

    Steve, I don’t 100% agree with the totals either. However, this storm does have the potential to cause a lot of damage and could be dangerous.

    Let’s say your theory of a few inches on the grass holds true. The storm is going to start as rain and heavy at times. Then a change to mix then snow. All the while, with an 80+% leaf canopy still in place we then get high gusty winds.

    The heavy rain will quickly saturate the ground and the leaf canopy. The few inches of snow will stick to the branches and leaf canopy like mortar to a new floor waiting for the tiles. Then the NE wind will gust 25-35mph + while heavy wet snow continues to pile up on the trees which are rooted in an already saturated and unfrozen ground. Then on the back side, the still gusty winds will switch to the N-NW. And nobody has mentioned one very important fact. Many of the standing trees have existing fresh stress cracks from hurricane Irene.

    So Steve, I ask you this. Are you saying, If everything I just wrote verifies, that a potentialy dangerous situation would not exist? Because I can almost certainly tell you that it will. Unfortunately, if verified, there will be injuries and high amounts of property damage and power outages from this storm. Power outages with cold temperatures lead to people doing stupid things to keep warm.

    Steve, not making people aware of this likely possibility is not only an abuse of power but negligent.

    – Joe

  • Italo

    I agree that what’s important about closely monitoring and discussing this storm, is the potential for downed power lines and tree limbs, hazardous road conditions, and power outages particularly for those folks out west and north who have miserably had to deal with such weather-related problems the last several seasons — in winter, as well as during some parts of spring and summer!

    That said, I think we’ll definitely see snow globs mixed in or taking over from driving rain along with driving winds later tonight, but I am not foreseeing that Bostonians will wake up during Sunday morning to see a landscape looking like Santa sledding on his Norelco electric shaver in the North Pole on one of those old 1960s TV commercials!

  • Snow Time

    Well Steve I would like to see all the people effected by this storm camp out on your door step looking to you for help! You know so much I wonder why you are on this blog in the first place, you should have your own TV and Radio shows so you can tell the folks not to worry about this storm since you know more than the Mets here. Lots of cold air aloft will make the warm water a non player especially when the wind comes out of the north later. Good luck to one and all, you too Steve!

  • xixiaoxin

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