Blizzard Warning Issued From Cape Cod To Maine Coast

BOSTON (CBS) – A Blizzard Warning has been issued from Cape Cod up to the coast of Maine ahead of Thursday’s impending snow storm.

With the storm track a little closer to New England now the warning covers eastern Essex County, the South Shore, South Coast, the Cape and Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts and the seacoast of New Hampshire.  It starts at 1 a.m. Thursday and lasts until 1 a.m. Friday.

Massachusetts School Closings

The snow will start falling across the region after midnight and won’t end until Thursday evening.  Blizzard conditions are possible with snow falling at a rate of one-to-two inches per hour at some points.

A widespread 8-to-12 inches will fall across central and eastern Mass., with localized amounts above a foot on the South Shore.

The totals taper west to east on the Cape, but wind gusts are expected to reach 50-to-70 miles per hour on the Cape and Islands.

Long story short, this is going to be a very powerful, impressive storm.

(WBZ-TV graphic)

Timeline:

First Flakes

The first flakes arrive around or just after midnight Wednesday night. Over the Cape and Islands it will begin as a bit of light rain. Early morning commuters will see low impacts, with just a dusting to an inch or so by 7 a.m.

(WBZ-TV graphic)

The Meat of the Storm

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 1-2” per hour.

(WBZ-TV graphic)

Blizzard Definition: A storm with “considerable falling or blowing snow”, winds in excess of 35 mph producing visibilities of less than 1/4 mile for at least 3 hours.

Rain will continue to fall over the Cape and Islands and waffle off and on over parts of southeastern MA.

(WBZ-TV graphic)

The afternoon is no better.

Bands of heavy snow and frequent gusts to 50 mph (50-70 mph over Cape Cod) will pound the area. Driving will become very treacherous if not impossible at times in the whiteout. The majority of the snow accumulation will occur between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Thursday, nearing or possibly topping a foot in parts of eastern MA!

The rain will change to heavy and wet snow over the Cape later Thursday afternoon as the winds turn more north-northwest.

(WBZ-TV graphic)

A Fast Mover

The storm will pull off to the northeast very quickly Thursday evening. Snow will taper to flurries after 7 p.m. with very little accumulation remaining. Winds will shift to the northwest and remain gusty but not quite as damaging as just hours earlier.

How Much:

This will be the biggest snow accumulation yet this season for most of the area.

12”+

We’ve added a foot plus for parts of southeastern Mass., 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.

8-12”

From Boston to Worcester and all areas north of the Pike including most of Worcester, Essex, and Middlesex counties… also areas just south of the Pike including Norfolk county and northern parts of Bristol and Plymouth counties. Finally, parts of southern New Hampshire including the New Hampshire and Maine Seacoast. Cannot rule out some locally higher amounts (up to 14”)

(WBZ-TV graphic)

4-8”

Areas of western Worcester County, western Massachusetts, and extreme southeast Massachusetts including the South Coast and most of Plymouth county.

2-4”

Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard (Due to mixing and rain issues), most of Vermont and northern New Hampshire (due to lighter snow rates).

Coating-to-2”

Extreme Outer Cape Cod and Nantucket, due to rain.

Winds:

The strongest winds will arrive late Thursday morning and last through the storm.

50-70 mph

Extreme southern Plymouth County, 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.

(WBZ-TV graphic)

35-50 mph

All of eastern Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts (inside of 495)…this is enough to cause some wind damage and scattered outages.

20-35 mph

West of 495 into central and western Mass. and New England.

Coastal Flooding:

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 minor to pockets of moderate 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. We are expecting a 2-3 foot storm surge on Thursday and wave height 10-20 feet just offshore.

(WBZ-TV graphic)

What’s Next?

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! Needless to say if there are any lingering power outages from Thursday’s storm that is going to cause a major problem.

(WBZ-TV graphic)

We only get a handful of these type of events each year, needless to say we urge you to stay tuned to updates on WBZ-TV and CBSBoston.com. If you have plans to travel Thursday, you should consider rescheduling if possible.

Follow Terry on Twitter @TerryWBZ

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