NBC Boston’s Weather Team continues an Early Warning Weather Alert for Tuesday, as an historic and life-threatening storm bears down on New England.
Monday is the proverbial calm before the storm, with an early cold wind diminishing and wispy clouds gradually increasing late. New England’s afternoon, high-altitude wispy clouds are "cirrus clouds" – before advanced weather technology, these were a sign to New England farmers that a storm was on the way…and a thickening and lowering of the clouds confirmed the storm was moving in.
Of course, modern technology affords many more details, particularly this close in to the storm, like a forecast start time in Southern New England of 4 AM and 8 AM Tuesday.
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The snow will start falling lightly, and may take a few hours to significantly intensify in the Boston area and the remainder of Eastern New England, but by late morning through mid-afternoon, snow rates of 2-5 inches per hour with occasional thundersnow is expected.
Though some dry air likely moves in aloft by 5 PM, cutting the tops right off of significant snow producing clouds and thereby reducing the snowfall rate, by that point 6 hours of average 3 inches per hour snow delivers the 18 inches forecast for many, though warmer air invading Southeast Massachusetts will cut down on amounts there.
Although some rain mixes in southeast, this doesn’t mean these areas will be immune to the wind. In fact, gusts to 70 mph are possible at the immediate coast of both Cape Cod and Outer Cape Ann, with 60 mph gusts along the remainder of the Eastern New England coastline, and 50 mph gusts penetrating deep inland, all the way to some of Central New England.
In fact, it’s the widespread snow and wind that will create widespread blizzard conditions, which is a big part of what separates this storm from many others – so much of New England will be impacted by big snow totals and damaging wind gusts. Of course, this means a few highlighted concerns that truly can prove to be life-threatening if not handled correctly: road travel, power outages, digging out and coastal flooding.
This time around, the coastal flooding will be the least impactful of those highlighted concerns, namely because the worst of the wind is likely to come after the early afternoon high tide Tuesday, limiting flood impact to minor or moderate at vulnerable east and northeast facing coasts.
Road travel, on the other hand, is one of our biggest concerns – conditions with snow and wind will make travel disorienting and nearly impossible Tuesday midday through afternoon. Those who must travel should be sure to have a winter driving safety kit of blanket, water, small shovel and charged cell phone.
Power outages won’t impact every community, but will occur both inland and at the coast, and those who use medical devices or other vital powered equipment should have generators at the ready. Power outages may last a couple of days for some select communities given the volume of snow, though power restoration from a snowstorm is quicker than from an ice storm, thankfully.
Finally, this storm will be what I refer to as a "Community Storm" – one in which some of us will need to help our New England neighbor out. For most of the region, the snow will be heavy, and there will be a lot of it – this will make shoveling a stressful task that will tax the body, and those not in the best of physical shape will need help digging out.
The storm wraps up by Tuesday night, and Wednesday looks quieter for most with some lingering snow showers in the mountains. As always, stay tuned to NBC Boston and necn on television and online for continued weather analysis, forecasts and information.