blizzard

FIRST ALERT: Nor'easter Batters Boston With Rain, Start of Snowstorm

We’re waiting for the storm to rapidly intensify later this morning and early afternoon, when we'll see the turn from rain to snow

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Right now, it's raining in Greater Boston, and some areas are seeing snowflakes. By 3 p.m., we should be in the middle of the first big snowstorm of the year.

A nor'easter is arriving in New England, prompting winter storm warnings across much of the region. The First Alert Weather Team has found that the storm has been intensifying, and will continue to do so throughout the day.

It may bring 9 inches of snow or more to the Boston area (estimates have been shifting) and is expected bring over a foot to many parts of New England.

Estimated snowfall totals from a nor'easter arriving in New England on Saturday
NBC10 Boston
Estimated snowfall totals from a nor'easter arriving in New England on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020.
Estimated snowfall totals from a nor'easter arriving in New England on Saturday
NBC10 Boston
Estimated snowfall totals from a nor'easter arriving in New England on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020.

Driving could be impacted by the mix of heavy precipitation and wind.

This wet start was part of the plan all along.

TIMELINE: An Hour-by-Hour Look at This Weekend's Nor'easter

Heavy rain and wind will hit the eastern part of Massachusetts after traveling the Interstate 90 turnpike, and wind gusts may hit 50 miles per hour.

We’re waiting for the storm to rapidly intensify later this morning and early afternoon, when most of us will see the turn from rain to snow. It will slowly weasel into the Worcester hills later this morning, then abruptly shift to the coast through the afternoon.

A map showing when to be off the roads in Massachusetts as a nor'easter approaches
NBC10 Boston

I liken it to a tennis player serving up a ball. The storm is the ball, and the cold rushing into the storm is the racket. When it makes contact, watch out.

What kept me up most of the night was the fact that our guidance is forecasting a smooth transition from rain to snow. We know, however, that that transition is more chaotic, or in some cases, sudden. That’s the worry with the accumulations, obviously.

With a faster turnover, more snow will accumulate near the coast. Or put more plainly, the 6-9 and 3-6 lines on the snow map shift closer to Boston and the South Shore.

As wind and rain turns to snow in New England, the region is getting ready.

Winds are issues with nor’easters, and this is no exception. We’re talking near-hurricane gusts. Communities along the coast will top 50-60 mph as the storm draws in heaps of air during intensification. This exchange of air means that some will be rising furiously. That could touch off thundersnow in spots, spiking snowfall rates to 1-3 an hour and causing roads to become impassable. Safe bet to follow the map and get off the roads. Power outages will be a problem as pasty, wet snow clings to power lines, trees, mittens, your neighbor snow blowing his driveway and etc.

This weekend’s nor’easter is proving tricky to forecast, NBC10 Boston and NECN Chief Meteorologist Matt Noyes says, but he has all the data on what to expect across New England.

Wrap on the storm won’t be until after midnight. As with most nor’easters, it just keeps snowing -- at a lighter pace, mind you -- on the backside. Plows will be out until the wee hours of Sunday morning.

This isn’t the final word of course. Plenty more updates to come ahead as we ride out the storm.

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