First Days of Winter Bring Frigid Temps and Potentially Damaging Rain and Wind

Power outages are possible regionwide on Friday

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The most noticeable change to the weather on this continued dry and cool Wednesday is the absence of wind: after days of a chilly breeze, the wind has quieted and high temperatures of 35 to 40 degrees actually feel like it! 

While our First Alert Team is closely tracking the developing storm that will deliver wind and rain to much of New England with snow and coastal flooding for some, we still have about 24 hours of quiet weather ahead. After Wednesday sunshine, clouds increase Wednesday evening and night, but the cool nature of the air still will afford overnight lows in the 20s south and teens north. 

Thursday morning and midday will remain dry, albeit cloudy, for most of New England, though from midday to early afternoon the first raindrops arrive to southwest Connecticut from the southwest. The rain is expected to expand northeast Thursday late day and evening, reaching northern and western New England after dark as snow – even west of Interstate 91 in Massachusetts and perhaps briefly in northern Worcester County to southwest New Hampshire before fairly quickly changing to rain and continuing through Thursday night, while the Green Mountains, White Mountains, northern Lakes Region and western Maine see 1 to 4 inches of snow, with as much as half a foot possible from the Presidentials to the mountains of Maine, where snow will fall into Friday morning before changing to rain.

Strong winds, rain Friday; power outages possible

Friday’s rain and wind will essentially come in two rounds: though we’ll find bouts of rain and wind off and on through the day, one concentrated surge of downpours and strong southeast wind comes Friday predawn into mid-morning, then a second surge of downpours and a southwest wind comes Friday afternoon. 

The first burst of wind from the southeast will likely be strongest, with gusts over 60 mph possible at the South Shore and southeast Massachusetts, Cape Cod and also on the northwest slopes of the Green Mountains, resulting in pockets of power outages regionwide. 

Flash freeze could impact Friday travel

The latter burst of wind in the afternoon likely will feature gusts to 50 mph, still sufficient for some damage and impacting different areas than the earlier southeast wind.  The afternoon burst of rain and wind culminates with a quick shot of cold air that will drop temperatures below freezing between 6 and p.m. 8 for many, raising the potential for a flash freeze on the roads Friday evening before temperatures drop enough in a continuing southwest wind for wind chill values near and below zero overnight Friday night. 

Meanwhile, the wind over our ocean waters will churn waves 15 to 25 feet offshore with near-shore waves of 7 to 12 feet and a high tide already running at a high level thanks to the upcoming New Moon, meaning minor coastal flooding is likely, with pockets of moderate coastal flooding not out of the question in vulnerable southeast and south facing coasts with a late morning high tide for most. 

When the high tide repeats prior to midnight Friday night, the southwest wind will mitigate the coastal flood threat for many, though south-facing coasts may still see some minor flooding.  Speaking of flooding, the two inches of rain with locally higher amounts will result in significant snowmelt just south of where accumulating snow falls in northern New England, and this will produce minor to perhaps pockets of moderate river flooding from the combination of melting snow and fallen rain, with most vulnerable rivers being the Kennebec in Maine, Suncook in New Hampshire, Hoosic in Massachusetts and Walloomsac in Vermont.

Christmas Eve, Christmas Day forecast

Saturday and Sunday both will be cold: high temperatures in the 20s, wind chill in the teens and southwest winds carrying ocean-effect snow showers onto the Cape and Islands, particularly on Saturday, with scattered mountain snow showers and fair sky for everyone in between. 

Another chance of snow next week?

The next chance of snow comes late next Tuesday into Wednesday, but at this point that is far from set in stone... we’ll keep you posted.

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