BOSTON (CBS) – When we get to mid-March, we can finally start asking the question, “Is winter over?”
The calendar would tell us that winter ends this Saturday at 5:37 a.m. with the arrival of the vernal equinox.
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If you mark the end of winter with our last snowfall, history would tell us we have to wait a little longer. The average final snowfall in Boston falls around March 29th, however 5 of the last April 7th have accumulated snowfall in Boston. And then of course there was this crazy snow on May 9th – just a trace in Boston but almost an inch in Worcester!
It’s clear it won’t be over until it’s over in New England. And today I’m here to tell you it’s not quite over yet.
It seems that winter has plans to sneak into one final snowfall before the closing bell.
A storm system will do a cross-country hike this week, starting in the deep southwest on Tuesday and pushing east all the way south of New England through Friday. It will bring mostly rain for most of the people on its trip, with only a few scattered swaths of snow on the northern edge of northern Texas to parts of Missouri and Illinois and eventually to the northeast. While it won’t be a big blizzard here, we could call it some sort of mini-nor’easter.
Rain arrives: Thursday afternoons and evenings, mostly bright.
RAIN CHANGES TO SNOW: First at higher altitudes and then from north to south throughout the area, mainly after midnight. This is the best chance that snow will actually build up (from around midnight to 7 a.m.). It’s much harder to accumulate snow in daylight this late in the season.
SNOW CAPS from north to south on late Friday morning and into the afternoon. The cape and islands are the last place to tidy up later in the afternoon.
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It is always difficult to predict snow accumulation for late season events. Without current snow cover and relatively warm soil (on Wednesday and Thursday it is mild), part of the snow melts on contact. Even in daylight on Friday, very little additional accumulation can be expected. Given that the heaviest snow on this event appears to be between midnight and 7 a.m., and temperatures are cold enough to support accumulation during this period, most of us seem to wake up to a white landscape on Friday. Most models have a relatively high chance of at least one inch of accumulation, but very little risk of 3 inches or more. Hence, for the time being, I would refer to it as a widely used 1-3 ″ in southern New England.
BUST POTENTIAL: If the snowfall intensity is lower and the storm is sliding a little further south, or if the timing changes and the heaviest snow falls in daylight, the predicted snowfall would fall on just one coating to an inch or two.
BOOM POTENTIAL: Chances are that if we hold on to the intensity of the heavy snow for a few hours (before sunrise) we can see high-end areas between 3 and 6 inches. This is not our current forecast, just a “what if” and high-end potential.
We will likely catch the northern edge of the strong wind envelope with this storm. North-northeast wind gusts could reach 45 to 55 miles per hour along the immediate coast, and over Cape Cod and the islands in particular. Peak winds come after midnight until the early afternoon on Friday. No worries about coastal flooding as the tides are not high astronomically, although we will be keeping an eye on the tide at 4am early Friday.
IS THAT IT?
I will almost certainly regret what I’m about to say, but it MIGHT be for the snow! The long-haul forecast is dominated by milder air and at this point I don’t see a shot of additional snowfall until next week. After that we are almost in April and at this point the chances are good that the season is over (although, as mentioned above, it can certainly snow in April).
Boston currently stands at 38.5 inches of snow for the season and our new 30 year average per season in Boston is 48.7 inches. Right before a late season, an April Fool’s-type surprise, it seems like this season is going to go down in the books as underperforming.
However, this is not the case everywhere, for example Worcester is already a few inches above the average for the entire season, currently at 70.9 inches.
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