Sunday, March 20, 2016

It's Game On Again For Nor'easter - For Some People Anyway

From Pivotal Weather, one forecast
for the unpredictable nor'easter tonight and tomorrow.
Pink zones depict the heaviest snow.  
One of the most frustrating storms to forecast I've seen in awhile is approaching New England now, and I'm sure it will give parts of eastern New England quite a bit of late season snow.

Prospects for snow have been on again, off again and then on again for parts of central New England, as computer forecasting models continue to struggle with how close to the coast the nor'easter will get.

How close to shore is important because that tells you how far inland the snow will get.

Some indications Thursday had it covering all of New England. By Saturday morning, it looked like the storm would be far enough off the coast to just graze eastern New England.

Now the predictions have swung somewhat closer to the coast, so more of New England, Long Island and southeastern New York could get snow.

Computer forecasting models generally don't predict  nor'easters well, especially in the spring. Still, its unusual to have this many questions about a snowstorm just 12 to 18 hours before it hits.

Yeah, happy first day of astronomical spring to you, too.

Expect some of the following to be wrong, but here's the general idea as of early Sunday morning.

Areas to the east and south of a New London, Connecticut to Boston, Massachusetts line look like they're in for six to 10 inches of snow, and winter storm warnings are up there.

The snow tonight and tomorrow morning will probably be heavy and wet, so there will be problems with broken trees and power lines in the winter storm zone. That's especially a concern because the storm will bring gusty winds, as most nor'easters do.

Out over the Cape and Islands, the snow might mix with  or change to rain, so there's a winter storm watch, not a more dire warning, due to the question marks.

Northern Connecticut and central Massachusetts are under a winter storm watch tonight and tomorrow.  It's possible the heavy snow could get that far west, but nobody is sure yet. They might get four to seven inches of snow.

There's still a lot of question marks about the New York City metro area, too. Just 12 hours before the start of the storm there early Sunday estimates ranged from a dusting of snow up to eight inches.

Eastern Long Island is under a winter storm warning, and most of the rest of Long Island is under a winter weather advisory. Nothing in New York City yet in terms of weather alerts, but stay tuned.

The northwestern flank of the storm will have a sharp cutoff between several inches of snow and nothing.

That line will between snow and pretty much nothing looks as if it will be somewhere from Albany, New York though southeastern Vermont and up through western New Hampshire.

But that forecast could be a bust, too. It's totally unclear to me whether the extent of the snow will be a little west, or a little east of the rough line we've drawn here.

If you're way up to the northwest, like in Burlington, Vermont or the Adirondacks, chances are pretty damn low you'll see any snow out of this. But there's a tiny, tiny chance even those areas could get a surprise light snow. But I doubt it.

Unfortunately, the forecast for New England after the storm departs Monday is also as clear as mud.

Some sort of weather front will set up much of the week, starting Tuesday night somewhere over or just south of New England. It'll eventually come north as a warm front Thursday night, maybe.

Moisture streaming from the south and rising up and over the stalled front, plus weather disturbances rippling along that front, appear to be poised to bring precipitation to most of New England

But it's totally unclear how much and what kind, especially north across Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and over in northern New York.

Expect it to be unsettled Tuesday night through Friday, with possible periods of snow, ice, rain, or all of the above during that time frame.

I have no frickin' clue how much accumulation of snow or ice will come during that time or if it rains, how much we'll get.

This time of year, though, in general, the chances of snow and ice increase during the night, and a mix or change to rain is more likely, but no guaranteed during daylight hours.

Most people, including myself, want a degree of certainty in their weather forecasts. We often get just that. Not this week. It's going to be a tough week to be a New England meteorologist.

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