BOSTON (CBS) – You heard the phrase “anything but the sink”. This is exactly what we plan to do this week with the storm from Monday to Tuesday and the storm from Thursday to Friday. Snow, sleet, freezing rain, rain – you name it, it’s going to fall from the sky over southern New England this week.
So far this winter has mainly been about snow. Not real icing events that can often happen on a La Nina winter (like this one). Since I am referring to both freezing rain and sleet, I feel it is important to be able to distinguish between the two and understand exactly what they mean and why one is much more dangerous than the other.
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Think of the atmosphere above us as a cake. If snow is forecast, the cake on top is all below 32 degrees, easy. Things get a lot more complicated when the temperatures in the different layers vary as you climb.
Sleet occurs when you get a fairly large layer where temperatures are above freezing. Normally snow falls from the height of the atmosphere and melts into drops as it passes through the warmer layer and then freezes into small balls of ice (sleet) when it falls back into a layer below freezing point. Sleet is nowhere near as dangerous as freezing rain as it usually doesn’t stick to surfaces, it just falls and collects in a layer of mini ice balls on the ground. You will hear the unmistakable “ping” of the side of the house and the car when the sleet falls.
Freezing rain is one of the most dangerous and dangerous types of precipitation. Freezing rain occurs when a large part of the atmospheric layer cake is above freezing point, but temperatures near the ground are below freezing point. So what you get is rain hitting the frozen ground, frozen cars, sidewalks, wires, and freezing on contact. When it freezes a lot, it rains on these surfaces. You can measure this accretion with a ruler. Anything over 0.10-0.25 inches puts strain on limbs and lines and can lead to widespread power outages and tree damage. Some of the most devastating storms in our history are due to large amounts of freezing rain.
Ok, now that we’re all on the same page, what can we expect this week?
A winter weather report is valid for the areas in purple from 7:00 p.m. Monday to 7 a.m. Tuesday.
While we wait for the main storm to arrive, things will be easier on Monday during the day. Probably nothing will be noticed by the afternoon and even then the snow / mix will be light.
All you need to do is watch out for light icing in some areas until late afternoon and evening, but very little snow, perhaps a coating up to an inch north of the Mass Pike (Northern Mass. And Southern N.H.).
Our real storm comes after midnight. With milder air already in some layers above the ground, very little snow will accumulate in southern New England.
Since it is primarily an ice / rain storm in southern New England, snow will accumulate in central and northern England. Happy ski areas!
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The latest forecasts have developed significantly more mildly with the surface temperatures. It now appears that most of southern New England will be above freezing at 5 a.m. on Tuesday, with the possible exception of the Worcester Hills and Berkshires (higher elevations).
So expect simple rain when you leave on Tuesday morning. In the elevated areas of Worcester County and Western MA, we saw ice formation as high as 0.25 inches, which was likely below thresholds for significant ice damage but certainly caused dangerous travel early Tuesday.
REST OF TUESDAY
The rain and ice subsided around noon and we cleared up in the afternoon. Temperatures drop below freezing overnight, ice and untreated surfaces
Just after the mess on Tuesday morning, another major and messy storm comes towards the end of the week.
I won’t go into that much detail about this storm yet as it is still a few days away. But here are some points that are a little different from Tuesday.
- Seems to start everywhere as initial snow, the atmosphere is colder than on Tuesday
- A little early again for amounts, but think of something on the order of a 3-6 inch snowfall before we change the precipitation types
- The snow timing would be Thursday afternoon and evening
- Overnight we switch from south to north to sleet and freezing rain (icy mixture)
- By Friday morning enough warm air will likely have accumulated to turn ice into simple rain over the coastal plain and perhaps until after 495
- The remainder of Friday offers lighter and tapered rainfall showers. Temperatures could rise in southeast MA by the 1940s, reaching maybe 50 degrees near or above Cape Cod.
None of these storms look like large wind producers. The Cape and Islands are at greatest risk of seeing gusts of 40 to 50 mph on both late Tuesday morning and Friday.
The tides are astronomically low this week, so expecting floods to hit the coast isn’t a big story either.
There is clearly a lot going on this week. We urge you to contact WBZ-TV, CBSBoston.com and CBSN Boston for regular updates on our weather team.
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