Several inches of snow are already on the ground in some areas Sunday morning as a winter storm moves through New England. While the overnight snowfall does NOT portend a trend to a faster, more aggressive storm, it does underscore how tricky and humbling this latest round of winter weather will be.
First, the mea culpa. This storm isn’t going to be as snowy as we were predicting. The milder air is pushing in too fast, the structure of the storm has morphed into something that signals more ice and rain, and there just isn’t enough cold to give us a wintry whallop. What will you do with all that bread and milk? We’ll all be over to cook you French toast this morning.
Kidding aside, we’re not taking this lightly. Nor are we pleased with the alternative. Seems like we’re trading one nasty element for a couple of others. But without further adieu, let’s get to the timeline…
The snow trickled in off the ocean (as flurries) for most of Eastern Massachusetts Saturday evening.
The heavy snow swept in overhead, reducing visibilities and slowing travel and cleanup. While snowfall rates approached an inch per hour at times, this was expected to be short-lived as the warmer air infiltrated from the south. It’s here – from the Cape/Islands to Rhode Island – that snow quickly turns to rain (snow portion of the storm is over for you).
Warmer air will continue to surge in through the wee hours of Sunday morning to all parts of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
Temperatures at ground level, however, will be stubborn, and only slowly rise to near freezing. It’s at this point the icing will start to become an issue, particularly in Northern Connecticut, Western/Central Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire.
This icing will continue through most of the day on Sunday, and it’s here that our biggest concern lies for difficult travel, slippery decks and walkways and power outages.
In the mean time, the temperatures will continue to rise across Southeast Massachusetts. Heavy rain will push through, and a potential line of thunderstorms could form in the afternoon. This line could contain gusty, damaging winds and torrential rain.
Some of that heavy rain could also reach throughout Southeast and Eastern Massachusetts, causing localized urban flooding at times.
Speaking of wind, coastal communities could see gusts crank to near 30-40 mph at times Sunday morning. Winds also crank on the backside of the storm throughout the afternoon and into the evening. Gusts could peak near 40 mph then.
Real concern, however, revolves around the intense winds on the Cape/Islands throughout the day Sunday. Our latest information shows some gusts may top 60 mph at times as the storm passes through from late morning to early afternoon. Plan on a few power outages, flying debris and difficult travel.
Coastal flooding seemed to be low key at first, but the latest information shows that parts of Southeast Massachusetts may be near moderate flooding around the time of high tide (10 a.m.) Sunday morning.
Last, but not least, is the flash freeze. As its name suggests, it will come in a flash as the wind shifts from a warm direction (south/southeast) to a cold direction (north) Sunday afternoon, with the storm departing off of Cape Cod. Obviously, this is not a concern for the locations that are already at or below freezing (Central Massachusetts/Southern New Hampshire), but a HUGE concern for cities and towns that are above freezing by Sunday afternoon. Roads that are washed of road treatment in the downpours may instantly turn icy.
All the precipitation wraps with the cold and wind by mid/late afternoon Sunday. Temperatures continue to plummet into the teens as wind chills dive to -10 to -20 overnight Sunday. A very cold Martin Luther King Jr. holiday is ahead.
We’ll be here throughout the storm with updates.