BOSTON (CBS) – It has been an easy winter featuring minor snow events over eastern New England. So Sunday night’s storm has the potential to be the biggest storm of the season so far in the Boston area westward to Worcester County.
With that said, it will not be classified a major storm despite the winter storm warning posted by the National Weather Service. The warning is issued because of the expectation of some heavy wet snow accumulating to 6 inches or more.
Boston’s biggest snowfall in a single storm this season is only 3.6″ back on February 18. So it looks like a lock unless new guidance later today indicates warmer air will flow up along the coast and cause a switch to rain in Boston.
It looks like the impending storm will produce a heavy wet, sticky snow over much of Eastern Massachusetts with a lower density snow in Worcester County westward. It will not be a fluff storm due to the presence of mild, moist air.
The swath of heaviest snow in the range of generally 6-10 inches will cover much of Massachusetts, except the northwestern section and southeast sections of the state. Farther northwest of Boston, the amounts will drop off as noted.
Similarly, the amounts will likely be less over Cape Cod extending into southern Bristol County and southeastern Plymouth County. This is the region of least confidence due to the current uncertainty on the precise placement of the eventual snow/rain boundary.
It should start as wet snow then turn to rain down there with a strip of mixing a bit farther north. The timing of the changeover will determine the accuracy of the projected totals in that area. I am not anticipating any issues with sleet and freezing rain from this storm.
The shield of snow will arrive in southwestern New England by 6-7 p.m., in Worcester County near 8 p.m. and the Boston area by 9 p.m.
The conditions appear favorable for a good thump of snow from midnight-6 a.m. with snowfall rates around an inch an hour or slightly higher. Meantime the mix and rain line will advance northward to the New England South Coast and pivot north-northwestward up into southeastern MA to the South Shore communities by 6-7 a.m.
Some sunshine will break through the clouds in the afternoon and the temperatures will rise to the lower to middle 40s producing some melting.
As the snow begins this evening, snow may initially melt on many pavements especially main roads but as the snow tempo ramps up before midnight, the roads will turn greasy, slippery and slushy with plowable amounts in many areas to follow in the early morning hours.
Allow extra time and be very cautious about changing road conditions by late evening into the morning commute. I suspect there will be many delays and cancellations tomorrow even though the roads will improve steadily as the morning progresses followed by the developing periods of sunshine and melting in the afternoon.
WINDS AND TIDES
As the storm intensifies, the northeasterly wind will spike up during the early morning hours to 20-40 mph over southeastern MA and extending up along the coast through Boston to Cape Ann.
Some gusts to 50 mph over Cape Cod cannot be ruled out. As the storm center churns out to sea, the wind will back to northwesterly by midday and decrease in the afternoon.
The tide is high just before 10am over most east coastal locations. For the most part there are no coastal concerns as the scheduled height is 9.7 feet in Boston. Even with some enhancement from surge due to the onshore flow, it should not raise the tide to flood stage most places. The seas will become rough.
FRIGID COLD COMING
I continue to keep a CBS eye on the reservoir of extreme cold in Canada.
Some of that is plunging into the central part of the nation today. Once our storm departs tomorrow and after a mild afternoon, it will turn very cold here for much of the rest of the week.
Fortunately, the wind will not be as vicious and damaging as it was in the cold blast last week. Nevertheless, it will create ‘real feel’ temperatures near or a bit below zero for several mornings with the coldest one projected for Thursday morning.
The temperatures will be running 15-20 degrees below the average for the first full week of March.
In fact, on Thursday, March 7, Boston’s high temperature may be very close to the lowest high temperature ever recorded on that date which is 22 degrees set in 1913. Ouch!
Check back frequently here at CBSBoston.com and also on WBZ-TV for updates on the storm and the frigid weather to follow.