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The biggest snowstorm so far this season will dump inches of snow Wednesday night through Thursday night. In this post, we break down everything you need to know about this storm.
Snow starts between 2am and 5am Thursday
Heaviest snow between 6am and 2pm Thursday
Snow ends between 4pm and 8pm Thursday
Highest gusts from Thursday morning through Thursday evening
Wind gusts as high as 45 mph while snow falls
Brief blizzard conditions are possible
Isolated power outages are expected
Uncertainty: Moderate to High (Some models conflict)
Highest snowfall totals for eastern areas
Current forecast for area: 3 to 6 inches (subject to change)
Mainly in the 20s while the snow falls
Will allow for higher snowfall ratios of up to 15 inches of snow per 1 inch of liquid
Temperatures will significantly drop off into the single-digits Thursday night as new shot of Arctic air arrives.
A low pressure has developed near the Bahamas and it will start to deepen with lowering pressures while it brings snow to portions of the South, including Florida. This low will continue to move up the coast, and starting Wednesday night, light snow will move into southwestern Connecticut. Meanwhile, the low will be undergoing bombogenesis. This is when the pressure drops at least 24 millibars within 24 hours. This storm will definitely exceed this criteria with a pressure at 7pm Wednesday of 981mb. It will fall all the way down to 944mb at 7pm Thursday, according to the European model. That is an insanely fast pressure drop, and this storm will likely be as strong as Hurricane Sandy. Thankfully, it will remain off the coast. The main question that remains is the track. Throughout the day Tuesday, the models continued the trend the center of the storm to the west, or closer to the coast. All of the models now take it pretty close to the 40/70 Benchmark, as shown below. When storms move over these coordinates (40°N, 70°W), impacts are typically maximized with these kinds of storms.
The jet stream dynamics are also very favorable, hinting at a large area of precipitation, so impacts will span hundreds of miles away from the center of the storm. While the storm is still off the coast of North Carolina Wednesday night, we'll already be seeing snow falling in our area.
It will make its closest approach during the day on Thursday. That's also when it will near the "Benchmark". Therefore, a moderate to perhaps heavy snow is likely during much of the day Thursday. Another question that relates to the track is where the heavy snow band sets up. I'm currently thinking it will be east of our area closer to Boston, but if the track of the storm continues to shift west, then we could be talking about heavier snow and thus heavier snowfall totals.
The track of the low will also help determine how strong the winds will be. This storm is going to be unusually strong, so winds will likely gust as high as 45 mph. Blizzard conditions cannot be ruled out. Also spotty power outages are likely. This is one of my greatest concerns because of the extreme cold that follows this storm. Temperatures Thursday night will be in the single-digits while the snow comes to an end. Then during the weekend, low temperatures will be below zero.
During the storm, temperatures will definitely be cold enough, so I am not concerned about any mixing. Temperatures will only be in the mid 20s during the day on Thursday, so snowfall ratios will be higher. That means you'll get more snow out of the same amount of liquid. That is another factor I considered when making the snowfall forecast. Speaking of the snowfall forecast, I am leaning toward the higher totals within the range of three to six inches for our area. Remember, if there are any more shifts in the track of this storm, which is certainly possible, I'll either have to increase or decrease these snowfall amounts. If anything, I'll likely have to increase them if banding looks to develop over our area. This forecast is just so difficult because there will be a sharp snowfall gradient on the western edge of the storm. What this means is we may receive 8 inches of snow while New York City only gets an inch. Based on the timing and snowfall totals predicting, travel will be difficult on Thursday and widespread school closures are likely. Also prepare for power outages just in case.