Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Storm Update: Still Looking At Intense Snow; Big Bust Potential

For what it's worth, here's what the Weather Channel
is expecting from storm totals with the upcomig
Nor'easter. My opinion is they might be under-forecastng totals
in eastern Vermont and New Hampshire. I think a few towns
could get two feet of snow out of this.  
Everything is still on track for a major, disruptive Nor'easter in New England tomorrow and Friday, but the devil is in the details.

And what a devil it is! Especially in western Vermont.

As the National Weather Service in South Burlington notes, the highest potential for a wrong forecast, naturally, is in the most heavily populated in the state.

Everyone is still expecting a sharp west-to-east gradient along the edges of the storm, which is expected to be Vermont's Champlain Valley.

Given that, places like Middlebury, Burlington and St. Albans will get somewhere between 1 and 16 inches of snow out of this storm.

Not a very helpful forecast, is it?

Any big differences in expected snow totals depends on whether the storm jogs as little as 20 miles more west than expected, or 20 miles more east.

It's impossible to predict the exact path of a nor'easter 24 hours ahead of time. The error in forecasting a storm track this far in advance is often 50 miles or more.

As of Wednesday afternoon, The American computer models bring the storm inland, passing just west of Boston. That would favor snow further north and west in Vermont. The European model brings the storm just outside Cape Cod, minimizing snow in northwest Vermont.

Despite the European model's (overstated) better reputation, it's really a tossup as to which model has a better handle on this storm.

There are also subtle things within the storm that could affect the timing and intensity of the snow. A bit of a disturbance within the circulation of the storm could pass through the Champlain Valley during the Thursday evening commute, which would cause an ill-timed and dangerous burst of heavy snow.

That's also not set in stone, but it's something to watch.

At the tail end of the storm on Friday, it looks like there could be bursts of heavy snow along the western slopes of the Green Mountains, but it's hard to tell how far into the Champlain Valley that might extend from the mountains.

Once again, forecasters are pulling their hair out over this one

You can see the problems forecasters are having, then.  I almost think I should start a GoFundMe drive to get large supplies of Advil to the meteorologists at the National Weather Service office in South Burlington.

Right now, the consensus seems to be four to six inches of new snow in the Champlain Valley, but please don't whine if I and every other forecasters is off. The winter storm warning continues for all of Vermont except the Champlain Valley, and the winter weather advisory remains in the Champlain Valley.

Everywhere in northern New England in the eastern half of Vermont, all except coastal New Hampshire and western Maine are almost definitely in the sweet spot for heavy snow, even if the forecast track of the no'reaster is off.

Twenty inches of new snow in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom is definitely not out of the question, and many places could very easily get a foot. A couple spots in Vermont could clock in at two feet with this one.

Central and northern New Hampshire continue to look like Ground Zero with this storm. Snow could come down at a wild rate of three inches per hour at times, winds will blow the snow around, and I still think there's an outside chance of Granite State thundersnow.

I wouldn't be at all surprised to hear of storm totals exceeding two feet in some New Hampshire towns.

Maine is looking as interesting as New Hampshire with this storm, except with more variety. Western and northern Maine are in for 1 to 2 feet of snow. The coast will get more rain than snow, but also a lot of wind.

The wind could gust to 60 mph or a little more in Downeast Coastal Maine, in places like Bar Harbor and Eastport.

Massachusetts is still looking interesting, too. Lots of snow in the west and central part of the state, lots of wind at the coast.

Bottom line: Expect a rough Thursday afternoon through Friday noon time in most of New England. Plan accordingly

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