BOSTON (CBS) — We all know the common, overused phrase, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a minute.” It seems that no place in the country is like Boston in that sense–our weather can, and so often does, change in an instant. We are literally famous for it, and we wear it like a badge of honor.
And now it appears we will be able to put another notch in our belt. It was 57 degrees at midnight last night. That is 2 degrees shy of the record high for February 3rd, and it occurred at midnight!
Thanks to one of the mildest starts ever in February, there is barely a trace of snow to be found anywhere in southern New England. We all woke up this morning to green grass and mild temperatures. The low temperature this morning was 54 degrees (a typical high temp in mid-April).
Perhaps, for a second, you forgot it was only February 4th, and had dreams that winter had already packed up and left town. I hate to crush your daydream, but winter is about to make a comeback. By this time tomorrow, spring fever will be over and our landscape will be transformed from green to white.
So what the heck is going on? Here are the basics: the cold front which moved through last night, bringing heavy rain and strong winds, is slowing down to a crawl off our coastline. This “weather boundary” is essentially going to stall just to our east, the models have been advertising this all week long, no big surprise here. This is not an uncommon setup, and typically small waves of low pressure will ripple along this boundary, causing it to wobble back and forth (west to east). The most significant “wave” is coming tonight, as expected.
However, what once looked like a small wobble and no big deal for us is now looking more and more like a significant storm. Energized by a “digging” jetstream to the west, this wave of low pressure is going to get a jolt of energy and its shield of precipitation will be drawn right into Southern New England early Friday morning.
11 p.m.-1 a.m.: Tonight: Rain pushes back into Southern New England, as far north and west as Worcester County and southern New Hampshire
1 a.m.-4 a.m.: As colder air is drawn in, the rain changes over to wet snow from northwest to southeast…by 4 a.m., the rain/snow line is likely near Boston and Providence…snowing all points north and raining to the south
4 a.m.-7 a.m.: The rain/snow line continues to push southward, all the way to the Cape Cod Canal around 7 a.m. Steady, and at times heavy, snow is falling in all of Eastern Massachusetts. Heaviest (up to an inch per hour) is likely from Boston to the south including Norfolk, Bristol and Plymouth counties.
7 a.m.-1 p.m.: Rain changes to snow during the mid-to-late morning over Cape Cod and the Islands. The back edge of the steady, accumulating snow stalls in Worcester County and then begins to push back east. Several inches of heavy, wet snow accumulate in these 6 hours.
1 p.m.-4 p.m.: The storm pulls away and the back edge of the snow makes steady eastward progress. By 4 p.m., the snow is done for most of the area, the last bands now exiting the Cape.
This is a very tough call for many reasons. The ground is relatively warm, especially for February. The actual air temperatures will be right near 32 degrees for most of the storm, leading to a heavy and wet consistency…not all that easy to pile up quickly. However, if the snow comes down fast enough, and we think it will close to and just south of Boston, that could help to pile up the inches quickly.
Once again, this won’t look like your typical New England snowstorm. Areas in central and northern New England will essentially get shut out.
Areas just west of Fitchburg and Concord, N.H., will be on the fringe of this storm, perhaps getting a coating to 2”
From Fitchburg and Concord, N.H. east to I-495 including most of northern Worcester County, and northwest Middlesex County, we are forecasting 2-4”
For large swath of Eastern Mass., from Lowell, Lawrence, Marlboro, and Worcester south and east, all the way down to the South Coast and Cape Cod Canal (including the City of Boston) we are forecasting 4-8”
For most of Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard, it will take a long time to change to snow and when it does, it will be very sloppy and wet, we are forecasting 2-4”
For the Outermost Cape and Nantucket we are forecasting a sloppy coating to 2”
Lastly, due to the heavy nature of this snow, there may be some isolated power outages, especially where more than 6” accumulate. This will be something to watch during the event on Friday. Winds will be a bit gusty along the Coast (20-40 mph), but not really much of a factor inland. Tides are not a concern at this time.
Clearly this is a rapidly changing forecast–so, as always, we urge you to stay tuned to WBZ-TV, WBZ NewsRadio 1030, and CBSBoston.com for frequent updates.
Watch: Terry and Danielle Niles with the latest on the storm
Follow Terry on Twitter @TerryWBZ