A historic blizzard hit us on Saturday morning. The snow will be fast and furious throughout the day, making travel dangerous. Our storm will undergo bombogenesis…maybe twice, dropping at least 24 millibars of pressure in 24 hours.
When will the heaviest snow fall in Massachusetts?
The snow continues to gather in waves of intensity. Snowplow trucks will struggle to keep up with rapid snowfall rates of 1 to 2 inches and more per hour and sometimes in eastern New England in the most intense snow bands of 2 to 4 inches per hour.
Visibility will be near zero and snow will blow and drift with a fluffy consistency. The snow remains heavy through Saturday evening, ending quickly from west to east by dinnertime.
How much snow will we have?
Widespread snowfall of 18 to 28 inches is forecast for Boston, Providence, the New Hampshire Coast to Portland, Maine and the Upper Cape. We’ll see 10-18 inches over the Outer Cape and Nantucket with more mixing, and 10-18 inches in western Massachusetts and Hartford, Connecticut, with totals falling rapidly west of there to 2-4 inches in the Berkshires.
In the heaviest bands of snow we will see over 30 inches of snow. This could settle in areas just northwest of Boston to the Merrimack Valley as well as the South Rim. This configuration can give one community 18 inches and another 30 inches over a 5 mile stretch. Thundersnow is also likely with these intense bands.
For reference, here are Boston’s Top 5 Biggest Snowstorms (2 days total): First place is February 17-18, 2002 with 27.6 inches; February 6-7, 1978 with 27.1 inches; April 1-2, 1997 with 25.4 inches; February 8-9, 2013 with 24.9 inches; and 5and spot is Jan 26-27, 2015 with 24.4 inches.
How big will the power outages be in Massachusetts?
The winds continue to intensify. Gusts from the northeast will push 40-50 mph along highways 128, 495, towards Worcester. 30 to 40 bursts per hour through Springfield and Vermont into interior New Hampshire. On the coast of Maine, New Hampshire and all of eastern Massachusetts to southern Rhode Island, we will see gusts of 50-70 mph or more in isolated locations.
In fact, with the gravity waves expected to propagate out from the center of the storm, it could carry more intense winds inshore, so the Outer Cape, South Rim to the tip of Cape Ann could gusts at 80 mph. This will contribute to damage to trees, roof shingles and power outages. Those without electricity will have another serious problem with the biting cold after the storm. Temperatures will remain below freezing through Monday afternoon. The lows will be in the teens Saturday night and Sunday night, and the highs in the mid-20s on Sunday.
By 2 p.m., wind gusts had reached 99 mph in Truro and several towns had experienced gusts in the 80s and 70s.
How concerned should we be about coastal flooding?
Our tides are astronomically higher due to the new moon. A storm surge of 1 to 3 feet is forecast, with high tides around 8 a.m., 9 p.m. and Sunday morning.
Our waves will be 10 to 15 feet with a northeast wind during the high tide on Saturday morning which will result in minor flooding. Waves will increase to 20 to 30 feet offshore with a northeast-north wind during the evening high tide causing minor to moderate flooding.
With the northerly wind, the water in Cape Cod Bay can remain high, so minor flooding is expected there for Sunday morning high tide, with 10 to 20 foot waves. Beach erosion will be significant along the entire New England coastline. Waves hitting homes will freeze as temperatures will be cold with this storm, even on the coast.
Cold temperatures and calm weather prevail Sunday as the storm cleanup begins. We have a good warm-up in the middle of the week and at the end of the week. Highs can be in the 50s, with rain showers on Thursday and Friday! Stay tuned to the First Alert weather team for more updates on this storm and the February thaw to follow.