By Eric Fisher

BOSTON (CBS) – The holiday stretch has been easy livin’ here with mild temperatures and one of the driest stretches of the whole year. We’ve really lucked out with low stress weather during a busy travel time. But of course, the quiet times have to end eventually. And we’re getting closer to that moment. The first significant storm system in nearly two weeks will roll into town Sunday night and bring with it everything but the kitchen sink yet again.

Before we get to that, be sure to enjoy the weekend! Saturday looks excellent with bright skies and mild temperatures in the mid to upper 40s. That’s a solid 10 degrees warmer than average for this time of year. Sunday looks dry and pleasant as well with highs in the low to mid 40s. We’ll have sunshine in the morning but high clouds will thicken up as the day wears on. No issues expected for the Patriots game or the ride home with a kickoff temp near 45F and light winds. The region should stay dry through the drive home after the game.

(WBZ-TV)

The storm that we’re tracking is a complex one that will last over 36 hours in our area. Precipitation will initially roll in after 8pm Sunday night and this is where we will have the best shot at some snowflakes flying. The air will be just cold enough, especially in northeastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire where the best chance of accumulating snow will be before the changeover to ice and rain.

As the night wears on, the problem isn’t so much the air near the ground but the air aloft. We’ve got a pattern that is just barely cold enough for winter weather with a ridge in place and a marginal air mass. The only thing keeping snow and ice in play is an area of cold high pressure over southeastern Canada that will funnel in the cold near ground level. Aloft several thousand feet up, the air will warm enough to change us over to sleet fairly quickly. This transition will likely take place overnight into early Monday morning.

During the day on Monday, temperatures should hover in the 28-32F range across the Worcester Hills and Monadnock Region. This sets the stage for what I think will be the main impact of this storm, and that’s freezing rain. It’s not a classic drain with high pressure more toward Montreal and a northerly drainage over snowpack. This high is more to the east, there will be more of an easterly component to the wind. That favors the higher terrain for significant ice more than a place like the Merrimack Valley.

(WBZ-TV graphic)

How much freezing rain could add up on trees and power lines? As of now, it looks like 0.25” to 0.75” could stick. Once you get over a half inch, you can start to have issues with downed trees and some outages. So this will be a tenuous forecast over the course of the weekend. Definitely stay updated to see if things escalate (or improve) over the course of Saturday and Sunday. Freezing rain will also be an issue across the Berkshires and throughout much of Vermont during this time.

Closer to the coast, we expect a changeover to regular rain for a good portion of Monday into Tuesday. This includes Boston, the North Shore to Cape Ann, and all of southeastern Massachusetts. The interior is where any icy mess will hold on. Farther north into New Hampshire, the cold air near the ground looks like it will be deeper and that means more sleet than freezing rain. Still nasty but less damaging.

Will anyone nearby get a pure snowstorm out of this? Even up into central New Hampshire and the White Mountains it looks like some sleet will sneak in. But the best odds of some significant snowfall would be in that central New Hampshire to White Mountains zone, and then later on Monday night into Tuesday for Maine.

(WBZ-TV graphic)

That second phase of the storm on Tuesday will be milder for us, with mainly rain and 40s. There may be a final burst of snowfall inland as the low passes, with the whole thing winding down Tuesday afternoon. Hopefully the exit will work out well with New Year’s Eve festivities with a drier and not-too-cold night in the 30s. Definitely not as harsh as some of the past celebrations in Boston.

Eric Fisher

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