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NOAA May Still Be Underestimating Wet Snow Potential New York City Into Coastal New England

6 Mar 2013, 1:26 pm


Winter Storm Headlines

D.C. is seeing some snow, even in the district.  The photo above is from DDOT about 2:05pm ET.  You can check the latest traffic cameras here. A cold rain is pushing northward across New Jersey, expected to reach NYC later this afternoon. But a changeover to wet snow is likely later tonight and Thursday. Latest Doppler Radar Composite is here.

* State of Emergency for Virginia. D.C. should wind up with 2-6″ slush, with 8-14″ amounts southern/western suburbs. As of 11:30am, Virginia power outages had climbed to 200,000  via the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

* Rain should change to wet snow in New York later tonight; a slushy accumulation still expected in NYC, potentially plowable, with the greatest amounts for Long Island and Connecticut suburbs. Although not as formidable as the Feb. 9 blizzard, I still suspect NOAA may be underestimating how much wet, sloppy snow will ultimately pile up in the immediate NYC area by Friday morning.

* Providence may pick up over 6-12″ or more Thursday and Friday.

* Boston sees a rain/snow mix, changing to mostly snow later tonight into Thursday; should be a plowable event, especially western suburbs. As much as 1-2 feet of snow may accumulate over southeastern MA.

* Moderate threat of power outages due to high water content in snow bringing down tree limbs and power lines from coastal New Jersey and Long Island to Providence and western suburbs of Boston.

Photo above shows heavy wet snow falling on Interstate 795 South in Reisterstown, MD. (Baltimore County) at Noon EST today. Thanks to Timothy Butz for sharing with us.  He says “Temperature of 33 degrees, Roads are wet with temperatures above freezing. Approximately 4″ of snow has fallen thus far.”

High Bust Potential. Washington D.C. (the district itself) won’t see quite as much snow as models were previously suggesting, closer to 2-5″, with some 4-8″ amounts as close as Montgomery and Fairfax counties, over 12″ for the southwestern suburbs, with 12-20″ amounts over central and northern Virginia.

The atmosphere from New York to Boston is “critical”, temperatures warm enough for rain into the evening hours. But winds are forecast to shift from east (warm, off the Atlantic) to more north/northeast later tonight, enabling a changeover to mostly wet snow later tonight in the NYC area. The models (I trust) suggest mostly snow from later tonight into most of Thursday for New York, ending as a little rain late Thursday night and Friday. By then some 4-8″ amounts may have accumulated, slightly less in Midtown, more for coastal New Jersey, with over a foot of slush for central and eastern Long Island and northwest Connecticut, deeper into the cold air.

La Guardia. Models are converging on a solution of 4-8″ for the immediate New York City area by Friday morning, although I expect some big variations, with amounts increasing as you drive east on the LIE. This will be heavy, wet and slushy, NOT prone to blowing and drifting, but 1-2″ of liquid water tied up in this snow will increase the risk of spotty power outages.

Providence: Mostly Snow. I expect less rain and more snow in Providence, with a north/northeast wind preventing milder Atlantic air from changing precipitation over to rain. I could see over 8″ of snow in Providence by Thursday night – Friday morning.

Boston: Right On The Line. Full transparency and honesty (which is exceedingly difficult for any meteorologist). The Boston forecast is one of the toughest I’ve faced in the last 2 years. The city will be on the rain/snow line for much of the storm, but I still expect enough snow to shovel/plow across much of the city, with amounts increasing (dramatically) as you head west and southwest, toward Newton and Waltham, where some 6-10″ amounts are possible. The heaviest amounts (1-2 feet) are forecast in a quadrant from Providence to Taunton to Brockton, MA.

Latest Watches and Warnings. NOAA has issued Coastal Flood Warnings from Delaware into coastal New Jersey, metro New York (including Long Island Sound) to Cape Cod and Boston. A storm surge of 4-6 feet is likely, sparking moderate flooding of lowland areas and some coastal highways, with peak waves coming Thursday. Click here for the latest details. 

Summary: This is an especially tough forecast, but after looking at all the guidance and latest model data I still believe that Winter Storm Watches may yet be upgraded to Winter Storm Warnings from New York to Providence to Boston. All 3 metro areas are right on the rain/snow line tonight, but as winds shift to a more northerly direction later tonight and Thursday I expect rain to mix with and then change over to mostly wet snow: heavy, wet snow capable of sparking sporadic power outages. A plowable snowfall is expected for much of the New York area and the western/southwestern suburbs of Boston by Friday, but this event will NOT be as extreme as the February 9 blizzard.Paul Douglas, Senior Meteorologist

Alerts Broadcaster LLC – Minneapolis




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Welcome to the WeatherNation blog. Every day I sift through hundreds of stories, maps, graphics and meteorological web sites, trying to capture some of the most interesting weather nuggets, the stories behind the forecast. I’ll link to stories and share some of the web sites I use. I’m still passionate about the weather, have been ever since Tropical Storm Agnes flooded my home in Lancaster, PA in 1972. I’ve started 5 weather-related companies. “EarthWatch” created the world’s first 3-D weather graphics for TV stations – Steven Spielberg used our software in “Jurassic Park” and “Twister”. My last company, “Digital Cyclone”, personalized weather for cell phones. “My-Cast” was launched in 2001 and is still going strong on iPhone, Android and Blackberry. I sold DCI to Garmin in 2007 so I could focus on my latest venture: WeatherNation. I also write a daily weather column for The Star Tribune And if you’re on Twitter, you’ll find me @pdouglasweather


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