BOSTON (CBS) – Record cold, Blizzard, Bombogenesis – if this is any indication of how our 2018 is going to be, this is gonna be a LONG year.
The next several days are going to feature some of the most dramatic and dangerous winter weather we have seen in our lifetimes here in Boston.
A ferocious 1-2-3 punch of snow, wind and cold are on the way.
Let’s get right to the details.
First things first. A large portion of the New England coastline is now under a Blizzard Warning. What does this mean? Essentially the combination of heavy snow and frequent gusty winds will produce whiteout conditions (visibility less than ¼ mile) at times within that area. If you’ve never driven in zero-visibility snowfall, trust me, you don’t want to start now. If you have travel plans on Thursday, especially within the blizzard-warned area, we urge you to reschedule.
Here’s the step-by-step, hour-by-hour forecast for Thursday.
By 7 a.m:
The first flakes arrive around or just after midnight. Over the Cape and Islands it will begin as a bit of light rain.
Road impacts: Low
Snow accumulation by 7 a.m: Dusting-to-1″
Winds: North-Northeast 15-35 mph
Between 7 a.m. and noon the storm really starts cranking.
Steady snow overspreads the entire area with bands of heavy snow rotating onshore. The winds will also steadily increase out of the north-northeast causing near whiteout or blizzard conditions in some areas. Snowfall rates within some of the heavy bands could reach 1-to-2” per hour. Rain will continue to fall over the Cape and Islands and waffle off and on over parts of southeastern Mass.
Road impacts: High
Snow accumulation by Noon: 3-to-6”
Winds: North 40-60 mph (coast), 20-40 mph (inland)
By 5 p.m:
The afternoon is brutal.
Bands of heavy snow and powerful, damaging wind gusts will pound the area. Driving will become very treacherous if not impossible at times in the whiteout. The rain will change to heavy and wet snow over the Cape later Thursday afternoon as the winds turn more north-northwest.
Road impacts: Severe
Snow accumulation by 5 p.m: 6-to-12” (less on Cape and Islands)
Winds: North-Northwest 50-75 mph (Cape/Islands/Immediate Coastline), 35-50 mph Eastern MA (Inland)
By 10 p.m:
The snow winds down between 5 and 10 p.m. The moderate and heavy snow bands completely diminish and just some flurries are left. By 8-to-9 p.m. it should be safe to start the cleanup without any additional accumulation.
Road impacts: Severe (improving late)
Snow accumulation by 10 p.m: Widespread 8-to-12″ with pockets up to 15-to-16″ (but less on the Outer Cape and areas well northwest)
Winds: West-Northwest 40-60 mpg Outer Cape, Nantucket and 20-40 mph for the rest of the area
This will be the biggest snow accumulation yet this season for most of the area.
Best chance for seeing over a foot would be southern Essex county, back to Route 128, from Boston to Providence and down to through coastal Norfolk county and northern/coastal Plymouth county (see map). This is where some of the most intense bands of snow are expected to occur from late Thursday morning through the afternoon. Thundersnow will be possible during these heaviest bands of snow too.
Essentially all of central and eastern Massachusetts including most of Worcester, Essex, and Middlesex counties… also areas just south of the Pike including Norfolk, Bristol and Plymouth counties. Finally, parts of southern New Hampshire including the New Hampshire and Maine Seacoast.
Areas of western Worcester County, western Massachusetts, and the upper Cape and Vineyard.
Outer Cape Cod and Nantucket (Due to mixing and rain issues), most of Vermont and northern New Hampshire (due to lighter snow rates).
The strongest winds will arrive late Thursday morning and last through the storm.
Coastal Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, all of Cape Cod and the Islands. There is likely to be widespread wind damage in these areas and perhaps a significant amount of power outages. Highest gusts (70+ likely just over the Cape and Nantucket)
Just inland from the coast, west of Route 128, back through Worcester county, large part of southern New Hampshire
Western Mass., western New Hampshire and Vermont
With the full “wolf” moon just passing, not to mention it was a supermoon (closer than normal to Earth), our tides are running very high this week. Even without a storm, we would had seen some minor coastal flooding.
High tide on Thursday arrives just after noon in Boston. Widespread moderate with pockets of major coastal flooding is expected during that tide cycle.
Thankfully, the storm is a fast mover.
So, by the time of the next high tide (after midnight Thursday) winds will have shifted to the north-northwest, an offshore direction.
The vulnerable shore roads will likely all be washed out with some inundation up to 6 feet in low lying areas.
Storm Surge: Expected to be 2-to-2.5 feet north of Boston and 2.5-to-3 feet south of Boston (north and east facing shore).
Waves: The seas will build very quickly on Thursday and waves just offshore will reach 10-to-20 feet.
Ice shove: Perhaps a new term to many, an ice shove refers to the washing ashore of chunks of ice that have built up due to the cold weather. This is a real concern during this event.
Freezing spray: Another concern with the cold temperatures combined with the waves splashing over. Some of the sea spray will freeze on contact with homes and structures.
If all that wind and snow wasn’t enough, the cold that will follow this storm will likely be the harshest we have seen this year and perhaps for many years.
The low temperatures on Saturday and Sunday morning will likely shatter records (-10 to -20 or lower) in most of Boston’s suburbs.
The City of Boston will also drop below zero, a very rare feat.
High temperatures on Saturday will struggle to get above zero in Boston and in many suburbs stay below zero all day!
If there are any lingering power outages from Thursday’s storm that is going to cause a major problem.
We urge you to stay tuned to updates on WBZ-TV and CBSBoston.com. We’ll have you covered every step of the way.
Follow Terry on Twitter @TerryWBZ