The Northeast has mostly dodged the worst of Old Man Winter’s fury so far this winter. That string of luck, however, could change as soon as this weekend.
A potentially high impact coastal storm could make parts of both Saturday and Sunday a travel nightmare from North Carolina to Maine, with the possibility of Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. seeing their first significant snowfalls of the season.
As is usual several days out, there are still significant uncertainties surrounding the storm. Here’s a look at what we do know at this point:
Timing: The storm looks to impact the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic on Saturday through Saturday night. The Northeast urban corridor, including New York and Boston, should see peak impacts Saturday evening into the early Sunday morning hours. Precipitation type (rain versus snow) is still tricky right now, but indications are that it could be all snow, and if it is, several inches of snow *could* pile up. Again, that is typically the hardest part of the storm to forecast, and we’re still very much in the process of determining that.
With that said, two of the key computer models, the European ECMWF and the American GFS, are in relative agreement about both the track and intensity of the storm. Forecasters typically seek agreement in models to develop confidence in a given forecast. Both models show a rapidly intensifying system quickly moving roughly parallel to the East Coast. The storm is expected to “bomb out”, or undergo the meteorological process of bombogenesis, defined as losing at least 24 millibars of pressure in a 24-hour time period. This indicates rapid intensification, a common characteristic of East Coast nor’easters, signifying a potent storm.
So here’s what we know, in short: a rapidly developing area of low pressure will move up the East Coast roughly parallel to the Eastern seaboard, bringing with it the threat for a major snowstorm. Strong winds, heavy precipitation and high surf can be expected from North Carolina’s outer banks through downeast Maine.
It is far too early to predict possible snow amounts. A track deviation of a mere 50 miles could mean rain versus snow for the big cities, and the storm is still days away. Again, however, this has the potential to be a big snow-maker for the I-95 corridor.
As always, we will keep you posted with the very latest!
Meteorologist Chris Bianchi