BOSTON (CBS) – You have to admit, this isn’t all that bad. Those 50-degree days with blue skies in December are sure to feel good. There is still no ice patch on the ponds, and the grass is greener than all year round. Winter shminter, maybe we’ll just skip this year.
Do not buy? Yes, me neither. Sure, we’re forecasting a mild and rather uneventful winter, but that’s not Arizona. New England will make New England sooner or later in winter no matter how much La Nina or global warming you throw in.
That brings us to this weekend. That was a tough question. In the past week the models have gone from nothing to a warm and windy rainstorm to a wintry northeast and back again. Currently, less than 48 hours after the height of the storm, we still have a wide range of solutions … not ideal.
You may have seen some social media posts in the past 24 to 48 hours showing the direct model output of snow loads in central and eastern MA. While this cannot be ruled out, it is quite unlikely (it’s always dangerous to put a model online without an explanation, but our team won’t). There are a couple of really big factors working against a big snow storm within 495 this weekend. First, the ocean is still pretty warm, ranging from 45 to 50 degrees, which is well above average for this time of year. Any wind from the water (which is of course true in a northeast coast) will flood the coast with mild air.
In addition, there is really no source of cold air to speak of. Most of the time, to get a big blizzard in our area, you need a high pressure area in our north to pump the cold Canadian air south. It just doesn’t exist in this mess, so the storm has to produce its own cold air and pull it down from the upper levels of the atmosphere. Possible? Yes. Probably? Meh.
So it is clear that the odds are stacked against us in eastern Massachusetts … not to say that it is impossible, but simply to say that it would take us a lot to get significant snow near I-95 and the coast to collect.
Further north and west, especially in elevated areas, the story is very different. With a stretch close enough to the coast, we were able to observe a significant accumulation of snow here. But even this all depends on the possible trail and intensity of the storm. A weaker storm with a trail farther south could mean next to nothing good northwest of Boston.
Just right? Ha!
Let’s get to the heart of the matter as best we can …
Some rain showers come Friday afternoon and evening, not that heavy. The showers continue from Friday evening to Saturday morning.
Between 7 a.m. and 12 noon on Saturday, the storm will begin to deepen south of Long Island and the precipitation should fill in and increase in intensity.
If there is to be a “climax” of this storm, it will come on Saturday afternoon and evening. This is clearly the timeframe to be observed. With the right storm trail and intensity, we would see heavy, wet snow falling in most parts of central and western MA on Saturday night. The rain / snow line would likely collapse to some degree to the east later in the afternoon, turning the rain into wet, pasty snow closer to 495.
On Saturday evening the storm will retreat from our area and if there is still precipitation it will be cold enough for everything to turn into snow. At this point, it’s hard to tell if there is enough juice left at the far end of 495 for significant or plowable snowfall, but it is entirely possible. In both cases, temperatures will drop below freezing overnight, allowing icy areas and slippery travel until Sunday morning.
TBD! Right now too much variability in the models to specify numbers and zones. Needless to say, on a stretch near Cape Cod, the further northwest you travel, the more clusters you would see, maybe 6 inches or more in the elevated areas of Western MA, Vermont, and New Hampshire. Again, however, this is very speculative as there is such a large margin of error given the current data.
The worst scenario for winds would occur with stronger storm chase near the cape. In this scenario, the north-northeast winds would pick up on Saturday afternoon and evening. The entire MA coast would see gusts of 35 to 55 miles per hour. When the storm hits Cape Cod, the strongest winds from Plymouth blow north through the north coast and the New Hampshire and Maine coasts. Inland, the winds are lighter, blowing between 15 and 35 miles per hour from the north-northeast.
The tides will be astronomically low, so no significant problems with flooding on the coast are to be expected. High tide occurs around 2 p.m. on Saturday afternoon and at 3 a.m. on Sunday morning just before and after the peak of the winds.
As always, we urge you to keep up to date with updates on WBZ-TV, CBSBoston.com and CBSN Boston before and during the storm.