Hunker down for a relatively long duration Nor’easter in New England starting Monday. After days of frigid temperatures, the region is bracing for a whopper of a storm that could dump well over a foot of snow in many areas, create blizzard-like conditions and cause travel problems for the next few days.
Blizzard-like conditions are possible for parts of the region, with a foot to 18 inches of snow expected in some areas. The snow is expected to start falling in Massachusetts on Monday morning, bringing up to a foot of snow to impact the evening commute. The storm will reach northern New England later that night.
Winds strong enough to bring down tree branches with gusts ranging from 50 to 70 mph are forecast for the storm.
There are some things that are new since our last update, so here is the very latest on the approaching snowstorm:
- Earlier onset: mid-morning southern New England, by lunchtime across Massachusetts
- Most of the accumulations happen in 6-8 hours, likely between 3 p.m. - 9 p.m.
- 1-2” per hour snowfall rates possible around the Monday evening commute
- Significant accumulations should wrap up by midnight
Here is what we can expect with overall impacts:
- Within a couple miles of the coast 3-6”, that goes to 6-9” as close as Brookline, 9-12” for most MetroWest and a jackpot of 12-18” near 495 and up into Merrimack Valley, southern New Hampshire and also across western New England
- 50-70 mph gusts at coast (outages isolated), coastal flooding at 1-2 a.m. Tuesday – minor to moderate in some areas
- At height of the storm, near blizzard conditions will be possible
- Tuesday will be messy with light rain/snow on and off…little if any additional accumulations
- Tuesday night precipitation shuts down, winds ease
- Wednesday a gradual clearing
If work from home is an option, it might be a good idea for Monday, even Tuesday. Try to be off the roads by 1 p.m. across most of the Commonwealth.
Snow emergencies will be going into effect in several communities, including Somerville and Boston.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh made the announcement Sunday night, and said it goes into effect Monday at noon. A parking ban also goes into effect at the same time.
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Walsh urged Bostonians to take precautions on the roads and sidewalks, particularly during Monday evening and Tuesday morning commutes.
All Boston Public School buildings will be closed both Monday and Tuesday, the district announced. Students will attend classes online for partial days that will end 2.5 hours earlier than regular dismissal. In-person learning is scheduled to resume Thursday, Feb. 4.
School districts across the region announced remote learning days, early dismissal and closures anticipating what the major storm will bring to the region.
New Englanders were preparing Sunday night to make sure they have everything they need to spend the next couple of days in their homes, while crews were gearing up to start treating the roads ahead of Monday's nor'easter.
A lot of people were making last-minute runs to the grocery store, saying with as much as a foot of snow coming in some spots, they want their groceries to be stocked.
“Getting ready with some groceries, then just trying to stay warm. That’s the only thing we can do," one woman said.
“It’s been terrible. I feel bad for the people that are out there in it. It’s brutal,” another said.
“Just staying at home as much as I can with my family because it has been really freezing,” said a third woman.
This major storm follows a brutal cold snap that sent the Boston area into a deep freeze over the weekend.
In New Hampshire, the state Department of Transportation is reminding residents and visitors to be prepared, noting this storm will significantly impact travel across the entire state.
Heavy snow is expected with total snow accumulations of 7 to 14 inches, and snowfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour in some areas. A coastal flood watch is also in effect for some parts of the state, meaning numerous roads may be closed; low-lying property including homes and businesses may become flooded; and some shoreline erosion may occur. Motorists are reminded to never drive through flooded roadways.
“As with every snowstorm, be prepared,” said New Hampshire Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Jennifer Harper. “Take time now to prepare your family. Being prepared means knowing what to do and having the things you need to stay safe.”
Travel will be very difficult due to low visibility and snow covered roads. Blowing and drifting snow in the central and southern portion of the state may cause whiteout conditions that will make travel nearly impossible, officials said.
“Based on anticipated heavy snowfall during commuter hours, we are recommending essential travel only,” said NH Department of Transportation Commissioner Victoria Sheehan. “Heavy snowfall rates mean poor visibility. If you have the ability to telework or engage in remote school opportunities, we recommend that you do so. If you must travel, please slow down and drive for the conditions, leaving plenty of space between your car and others, as well as plenty of time to reach your destination. As always, please don’t crowd the plow. We will be doing our best to clear roadways and keep NH moving.”
The combination of heavy snow and strong wind gusts may lead to scattered power outages. Anyone who sees a downed power line is advised to stay away and call 911.
Eversource says it is ready to respond to the first major snowstorm of 2021. While continuing to operate under its COVID-19 pandemic plan and adhering to its strict social distancing and safety measures, the energy company will have line and tree crews pre-positioned around the commonwealth to respond to any damage or outages caused by this storm.
Out-of-state crews are also being brought in to assist with restoring power, and customer care representatives are at the ready to take calls if needed.
“We’ve been watching this storm for days and will adjust our plan accordingly,” said Eversource Vice President of Electric Operations Doug Foley. “The forecasts call for large amounts of snow and high winds, which may make travel conditions challenging for the crews. We’re checking our equipment and supplies and staging the crews at our work centers across the commonwealth to ensure we’re ready to repair any damage we may see from this storm. We also remind customers that restorations may take longer as we ensure the safety of our employees and customers while continuing to work under the challenging conditions related to the pandemic.”
Eversource urges customers to always stay clear of downed wires and to report them immediately to 911. Be sure to report any outage online at www.eversource.com, or by calling 800-592-2000 in Eastern Mass. or 877-659-6326 in Western Mass.
Stay with necn and NBC10 Boston's weather team for the very latest.
The Associated Press contributed to this report