Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Ice Ending In New England, Next Storm Hot On Its Heels

The Weather Channel forecast map has widespread snow
accumulations (in lavender) of more than five inches
from Pennsylania through the southeastern
half of New England for Thursday. 
Here in Vermont, we're finishing up our latest bout of icy weather.

As of 7 a.m., it was still below freezing in parts of eastern Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and pieces of northeastern Massachusetts, so winter weather advisories continue there for icy roads this morning.  

Careful on your morning commute.

I know that the Boston metro area was still below freezing during this morning's commute. Things got so bad that major highways were closed by multiple crashes and everybody was being urged to call in sick to work so they don't drive on the dangerous roads.

There's been some gusty winds up here in Vermont, too and that will continue today. Downslope winds on the west slope of the Green Mountains overnight produced gusts as high as 56 mph in Underhill Center.

Everyone who wasn't above freezing early this morning will get there in a few hours, at least briefly.

Kudos to the National Weather Service in South Burlington, Vermont who got this tricky forecast overnight right. If I had any quibbles, it's that there was a little less snow and a little more freezing rain than forecast, but still, they nailed it.

Now let's see how National Weather Service forecasters in Vermont and the rest of the Northeast handle a very, very difficult forecast for the next storm, and beyond.

First, today, the brief warm air we have this morning and early afternoon will get flushed out quickly by a strong cold front. Though there won't be much in the way of precipitation, puddles, wet sidewalks and such will freeze up hard this evening. Dicey underfoot, that's for sure.

Next we have that next nor'easter developing for later tonight and Thursday

Broad brush, the computer models have been consistent in developing this storm and moving it along the coast. But there's still disagreement on how far to the north and west the snow will get, and how heavily the snow will come down in areas we know are going to get the brunt of this.

The brunt includes a zone from eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, through the New York City area into pretty much all of southern New England.   Widespread totals of six to 12 inches of snow are expected in this zone, where winter storm warnings are now in effect late tonight and Thursday.

This is a dynamic system, so there's even a chance of thundersnow in eastern New England. Looks like we need to page thundersnow enthusiast Jim Cantore once again.

The biggest question is now far north and west the snow gets in New England. The NWS in South Burlington is starting to think maybe two to five inches of snow as far north as Rutland and White River Junction.

They're contemplating issuing a winter weather advisory for that region, but are holding off until the current advisories expire later this morning. It's too confusing to have two separate weather alerts going at once.

It's still looking like only a little snow will fall further north up toward Montpelier, and almost nothing in the Champlain Valley.

Big caveat: That's how the forecast stands now. There's always a chance that Thursday's snow could surge further north than expected. Or converselty, wimp out into nothing in southern Vermont.

You gotta be ready for surprises with Vermont weather, right?

Beyond that, it'll be quite cold on Friday, and a weak system will scatter a little snow on us Saturday.

Then, a much stronger storm that's slamming California today and tonight will be on our doorstep by Sunday.  It could get ugly again by then. At this point, it looks like Sunday's storm will create another lousy mix or precipitation here in Vermont, but it's way, way too soon to know for sure.

As always, stay tuned.

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