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‘Very Significant’ Snow Storm Coming Thursday, Friday

By Terry Eliasen, Meteorologist, WBZ-TV Exec. Weather Producer
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(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) –  So, judging from my very quick and easy commute into work Monday morning, it seems that many of you are still on vacation. Perhaps savoring the last days of 2013 on the slopes, finishing up the last of the Christmas cookies, or having that one final Chinese meal before you start the big diet in 2014.

Check: Current Conditions | Interactive Radar | WBZ Weather Blog

Well, I hate to wake you from your holiday slumber, but things are happening in the weather world that require your attention. We are in for a very wintry week of weather and start to the New Year.

FRIGID WEATHER FIRST

First things first.

Our temperatures are about to take a serious nosedive.  In fact, once we go below freezing Monday evening, we likely will not see the other side of 32 degrees until later this weekend! This is setting us up for a very cold New Year’s Eve, so if your plans are taking you into Boston or any place outdoors, bundle up!

The high temperatures on Tuesday will be stuck in the low to mid 20’s with some occasional light snow or flurries in the air. At night, we will fall back through the 20’s and into the teens with wind chills somewhere in the 5-to-15 degree range.

It’s the same idea for New Year’s Day.  There will be some filtered sunshine and it will be very cold, in the teens for highs in the northern and western suburbs and low 20’s in Boston.

And then, just in time for you to come back to work and school on Thursday, it starts to snow… and snow… and snow… likely well into Friday!

This storm is by no means “locked up” just yet.  In fact, the piece of energy that will be the catalyst for our snow storm is currently sitting off the Alaskan coastline, some 4,000 miles away!

Most of our computer models show this feature diving southward from Alaska over the next few days and combining forces with a storm system in the Gulf of Mexico early on Thursday. Most of the energy from these two systems will then transfer off the Carolina Coastline (stop me if you have heard this one before… a classic setup for a winter storm in New England) and head up the coast in our general direction.

THE EARLY STORM FORECAST

Here is where I see two potential solutions.

The newly formed ocean storm or nor’easter, as I am sure we will end up calling it, could either track a few hundred miles off our coastline, leading to a significant, plowable snowstorm OR it could track much closer to southern New England.  This would lead to a major winter event, perhaps rivaling some of our bigger snowstorms of recent memory.

Now that is a pretty big statement, especially more than three days in advance, so let’s not get crazy and start buying bread and milk just yet, but, you should know that the potential exists for a major, powerful, disruptive nor’easter Thursday and Friday.

Either way, at this point it looks fairly safe to predict a very significant storm complete with big snow accumulation, powerful northeast winds and some coastal flooding.

Currently there is no scenario by which we would get less than 6-to-12 inches of snow for most of southern New England. It will be so cold leading up to this event, it will surely fall as mainly snow for just about all locations with only some risk of mixing down over the Islands.

Some bit of good news – the snow would likely be very light and fluffy, but this will also mean that it will tend to accumulate much more readily.

TIME FRAME

The snow could start as early as dawn on Thursday, but most of the snow we would get during the day on Thursday would be light. It  doesn’t mean we couldn’t accumulate several inches during the day, but the brunt of the storm looks to come Thursday night and into Friday morning. This will likely be a longer duration event, perhaps snowing for nearly 36 hours.

Winds will likely increase steadily during the day on Thursday and by Thursday night may gust 25-to-50 mph or higher, especially along the coastline.

Unfortunately, the tides are astronomically high at the end of this week, so we will need to watch several high tide cycles starting Thursday morning around 11 a.m., and again at midnight and again midday on Friday. With strong winds out of the northeast for several successive high tides, the seas would likely build with each tide, making the coastal flooding worse with each cycle.

As usual, I stress that we are still a significant distance away from this storm and changes are inevitable.

I would urge you pay a little extra attention to the forecast over the next 48 hours and be prepared for a rude welcome back to work and school from Mother Nature.

Watch Eric Fisher’s forecast:

Follow Terry on Twitter @TerryWBZ

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