Saturday, January 31, 2015

Cross-Country Snowstorm Has New England As Target, Again

A huge swath of the country from Nebraska
to New England are under various winter storm
alerts because of the next in a series
of storms about to roll through.  
It's getting more and more likely as we speak that southern New England is in for yet ANOTHER sizeable snowstorm.

I'm not going to make a totally firm forecast, but there's a very good chance that some areas that were socked really hard by that blizzard last Monday and Tuesday will get hit with a foot of snow.

With that, and the light snows that fell yesterday and this morning, I'm not sure where people are expected to put the forecasted new snow. All the places to store it having removed it from streets and parking lots are full.

Leaving it on the streets isn't an option, in part because it's not going to warm up and thaw anytime soon.

This storm is a little different than past recent ones because it's not just a creature of the Northeast.


It started in New Mexico yesterday, where the mountains and ski areas got a good dump yesterday, and it's still snowing.

Next, the band of heavy snow will extend roughly along Interstate 80 and Interstate 90 from South Dakota all the way to the East Coast.

Winter storm warnings are in effect now from the southeastern corner of South Dakota, through most of Iowa, the northern half of Illinois and northern Indiana. This includes the cities of Des Moines, Chicago, South Bend and Fort Wayne.

All these areas can expect six to twelve inches of snow between tonight and the end of the day tomorrow.

Snowstorms of that magnitude are disruptive, of course, but at least it won't be as bad as it could be on the East Coast.

The Midwestern areas under the storm warning have been relatively warm recently. In fact it was in the 50s in Iowa and South Dakota a couple days ago. There is little or no snow on the ground in areas expecting a good dump with this new storm.

In fact, ahead of the storm, it's still warm. As of noon, it was still above freezing in Des Moines and Chicago. That will change as the storm rolls in.


The storm is expected to continue pretty much due east along Interstates 80 and 90 all the way to the New England and New York coasts later Sunday and Monday.

This, and points slightly south of that into the New York City metro area and New Jersey, are under the gun.

Of course, forecasts can change, but it looks like up to a foot of snow could fall in areas of Massachusetts that got around three feet of snow earlier in the week.

Extremely cold air will be pressing in from northern New England during the storm, so the snow will likely be light and fluffy, especially the more north you go in the heavy snow zone.

It'll also be quite windy, with gusts up to 40 mph, so the fluffy snow will blow and drift like crazy. Visibility will be awful. Combined with the low temperatures this will be an almost-blizzard, but not quite. Close enough, though.

Even though the snow could end up being relatively light and fluffy, I'm worried about Massachusetts roofs.

This new snow could really weigh things down to the point where we could have structural collapses. If the snow is thick on your roof, now's the time to get it off. Try to get somebody who knows what they're doing if your roof is steep or otherwise tricky.  
OK, it won't be nearly this bad, but parts of
New England that got three feet of snow earlier
in the week could get another foot by Monday.  

Since the storm is coming from the west, not the south, parts of Connecticut and western Massachusetts that didn't get all that much snow in last week's blizzard could get a hammering this time.

Just like last time, it's beginning to look like New York City will be on the edge of the heavy snow zone, so the forecast there is especially tricky. But things will play out differently this time.

Instead of a lack of precipitation, New York will probably get a bunch, but a bad kind. Remember that brutally cold air I mentioned sitting over places like the Adirondacks and Vermont as this storm goes through?

Well, it will bleed south near the earth's surface into the New York City and New Jersey area. Meanwhile, warm air with the storm will glide up and over the cold air.

That could mean a lot of freezing rain, which would of course bring down lots of trees and powerlines.

The irony could end up being that the last storm, which some forecasters said could have been historic in New York, ended up being not that big a deal. But this storm, sneaking up on them, could become more disruptive than the last one.

Predicting where heavy freezing rain will set this far before a storm is tricky. Don't take my suggestions of freezing rain in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and southern New York and maybe southern Connecticut as gospel. I'm just saying it's something that has to be watched.


The heavy snow could extend up into southern Vermont, again which didn't much last week, and southern New Hampshire, which DID get a lot. Winter storm watches now extend as far north as the southernmost two counties of Vermont. 

At this point, it looks like the Adirondacks,  northern Vermont, northern New Hampshire and western Maine might not get much out of this, maybe a couple inches.

At least as it appears now, the storm track will be too far south to spread heavy precipitation that far north. That frigid air that will be sitting over those spots is also very dry, so snow that does start to fall from clouds will evaporate before hitting the ground during the first hours of the storm.

A caveat: If the storm unexpectedly tracks more to the north than expected, northern Vermont and New Hampshire and the Adirondacks could see heavier snow. Some of the computer models are trying to nudge heavy snow - more than six inches - all the way to northern Vermont and northern New Hampshire.  

So snow lovers in the North: It's still possible, but not all that likely at this point, there you'll get a big dump.

Those northern areas have been getting flurried to death for the past month anyway. There have been no big storms up north, but light snowfalls almost every other day since early January have built up a halfway decent, but by no means outlandish snowcover. Enough for winter sports, anyway.


I don't think anyone in New England will want to partake in winter sports once the storm starts to pull away Monday night and Tuesday.

It will be so, SO cold in New England then, with horrible wind chills, too.

There could be some record cold temperatures in southern New England. Arctic cold gets even nastier and colder when it's over a deep snow pack.

Northern New England won't even get above zero Monday and Tuesday, and it could be in the 20s below in some areas Monday night.

After a brief break in the cold Wednesday, another Arctic blast arrives Thursday and Friday of the upcoming week. It's still unclear whether that new blast will be accompanied by more heavy snows.

We'll just have to get through this storm first.

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