Christmas Storm to Bring Heavy Rain, Strong Winds

Power outages and coastal flooding are possible in some areas on Friday morning

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Clouds breaking for sunshine in central and southern New England on Tuesday make for a slightly milder and certainly brighter day than recent days, while northern New England finds a disturbance aloft dragging a cold front southward from Canada at ground level, first touching off scattered snow showers in northern New England and then opening the door to a chilly west-northwest wind for all of the region.

Before Tuesday night temperatures drop into the teens north and 20s south, with wind chill values some 10 degrees colder, there will be a rare opportunity to take in a spectacle in our New England sky: the Great Conjunction of 2020. The Great Conjunction refers to the close appearance of Jupiter and Saturn to one another – appearing closer than they have since July of 1623 – and is visible in the southwest sky, low on the horizon, just after sundown between 5 and 5:45 p.m. 

Jupiter and Saturn near merged in the night sky to create a single "Christmas star" Monday, appearing closer to one another than they have since Galileo’s time in the 17th century. Though the plants won't be as close, there is another chance to see it Tuesday night.

The colder air arriving Tuesday night means while Wednesday should be bright, it will also be cooler than Tuesday, with high temperatures generally shy of 40 degrees. 

What’s incredible is how quickly temperatures will turn around by Christmas Eve Day as a strong storm pulls northeast across the Great Lakes into southern Canada, putting the northeastern U.S. on the warm side of the clockwise flow of air around the storm center with an increasing south wind by late day Thursday, helping to boost temperatures over 50 degrees by day’s end in southern New England. 

Although a few showers are possible from time to time Thursday – and even more likely as scattered showers Christmas Eve – it looks right now like the heavier, steadier rain arrives from west to east overnight Thursday night, falling heaviest Friday morning. 

Ahead of an approaching cold front associated with the storm, south winds will gust over 50 mph at least at the coastline – still to be determined just how far inland those winds carry – raising the possibility of Christmas morning power outages for some amid downpours that will drop at least one to two inches of rain. 

Coupled with melting snow and breaking ice on area rivers, it’s likely some of our smaller rivers in Northern and Western New England will come to minor flood levels – not impossible to hit moderate flood levels in one or two Vermont spots near Otter Creek and the Mettawee River - with melting snow and at least one to two inches of rainfall.  

After morning high temperatures of 55 to 60 degrees on Christmas Day, markedly colder air arrives on a changing wind to blow from the west, sending afternoon temperatures plummeting through the 40s into the 30s, then dropping below freezing by late day into the night with a busy, cold wind from the west. 

This sets New England up for two cold but mostly dry days Saturday and Sunday, leading into our next weather system early next week with a chance of snow – possibly mixed with rain in southern New England – Monday into Tuesday, then another disturbance that may deliver some rain or snow on New Year’s Eve, though that’s still to be determined at the very end of our First Alert 10-day forecast.

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