First Alert: A Messy Storm for Most Of Us On Christmas Day

Most of New England sees some ice, causing treacherous travel

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Friday morning's snow wasn’t a lot, but it’s been enough to deliver a white Christmas to much of Connecticut, and western and central Massachusetts.

While we may not hit the one inch snow depth technically designated to be a white Christmas in all of Rhode Island to the Boston Metro, many folks saw a dusting.  That wasn’t the case from the MA/NH border and northern Essex County points north, where some of northern MA to southern NH will be missing snow on the ground this year, though much of northern New England still has snow from our previous storms. 

That said, the great weather news for those making the rounds to friends and family Christmas Eve is that New England will be dry from northern Maine to southern CT, with only patches of black ice where daytime snow melted and refroze. Winds will be nearly calm for Santa’s flight. 

The weather will go downhill quickly in the predawn Christmas morning, however, as the next disturbance – an energetic one aloft – approaches from the west and sparks surface storm development over New England for a growing swath of precipitation from 2 a.m. west to 4 a.m. east, continuing through the day. 

The problem will be an abundance of cold air near the ground but an abundance of warmth and moisture aloft – a great setup for freezing rain in most of interior southern New England.  Although this doesn’t appear to be an ice storm that will knock out power to those who see Christmas morning freezing rain, travel will be significantly impacted by icy roads and the need for treatment and re-treatment for a few hours – from 4-9 a.m. for many, and as late as 10 a.m. - noon northwest of Boston in the upper Route 495 belt to Route 2 and southern NH. 

Farther north, the weather becomes more of an issue for much of the day on Christmas Day – in the northern half of New England, a combination of snow and sleet will turn to rain for some of Vermont, freezing rain for the eastern slopes of the Greens into central NH, and a combination of snow, sleet and freezing rain for much of the lakes region to the mountains of NH and much of Maine. 

At ground level, temperatures will jump either side of the freezing mark Christmas afternoon and evening, making for a very tricky storm for particularly NH and ME road treatments with multiple types of changing precipitation. While right now our snow total forecast is 2”-4” in a large area, we believe there will probably be a bullseye of 6”-8” in the mountains, and the amount of mixed precipitation elsewhere means the limited snow accumulation forecast may serve to hide just how messy the day and evening will be, keeping road crews away from family for much of Christmas Day and catching motorists off guard at times in changing conditions. 

Expect most of the mix to change to snow in northern New England Saturday night before winding down Sunday morning, with southern New England rain shipping out very early Sunday morning, as well, for improving conditions. 

Next week will bring a very active jet stream to the United States, meaning multiple storms – although we may avoid the brunt of them. We’ll be keeping a close eye on a busy weather pattern.

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