After many close calls with potential blizzards, and such in the Northeast, we actually have an imminent major snowstorm on our hands. The National Weather Service has already started to issue winter storm watches and warnings for Northern New England, and far western New York.
Here is a picture from the NWS of all of their watches and warnings
(Source: The National Weather Service)
What does a winter storm watch mean?
“A WINTER STORM WATCH MEANS THERE IS A POTENTIAL FOR SIGNIFICANT
SNOW...SLEET...OR ICE ACCUMULATIONS THAT MAY IMPACT TRAVEL.
CONTINUE TO MONITOR THE LATEST FORECASTS.” (National Weather Service)
How much snow should people in the areas in northern New England Expect?
Although no forecasting model is one hundred percent accurate, they do have a pretty good grasp on the snowfall totals for this system. One forecast model, the Global Forecasting System (GFS), says that in areas of western New York, you can expect anywhere from 8-10 inches of snow. For those in northern New England, you can expect anywhere from 4-8 inches with higher amounts in the mountains.
Here is the Exact GFS Snow Forecast for the next 120 Hours
(Source: http://wintercast.tripod.com/id14.html and GFS model)
Will this be enough snow to cancel school on Wednesday, and give kids a head start on Thanksgiving vacation?
My opinion on this matter, is that if the snow falls hard enough when busses are bringing kids to school, then they will either have a delay or just flat out cancel school. In order for schools, to cancel, the snow would have to continue through late afternoon, with heavy snow. It looks like this will be the case in many places in the interior of New England and New York. I do expect there to be multiple school closures in northern New England.
Will this snow be really easy to shovel?
The short answer is yes, this snow event is going to drop heavy wet snow. Temperatures will be hovering around freezing, so all snow that falls will be very heavy and water logged. The Long answer is specific to your location, and the temperature, to the exact degree. If your temperature is 3 degrees below 32, then it will be much easier to shovel, due to its low water content. This is the type of snow that most people love to see. If your temperature is three degrees over, in a major storm like the one that is going to hit us in a couple of days, then you are going to have a really easy time shoveling, because there is no snow to shovel. The water content of the snow is also based on elevation in some cases. For example, if it is 34 degrees in Lincoln, then it would most likely be snowing on Loon Mountain, because as you gain altitude, the temperature goes down.
Here is a better description of the water content in snow
Wetness Index Description θ
Content (mWC) [vol. %]
Dry 1 ts ≤0.0◦C. Disaggregated snow grains have little tendency 0
to adhere to each other when pressed together.
Moist 2 ts = 0.0
◦C. The water is not visible, even at 10× magniﬁcation. 0–3
When lightly crushed, the snow has a tendency to stick together.
Wet 3 ts = 0.0
◦C. The water can be recognized at 10× magniﬁcation 3–8
by its meniscus between adjacent snow grains, but water cannot
be pressed out by moderately squeezing the snow in the hands.
Very Wet 4 ts = 0.0
◦C. The water can be pressed out by moderately 8–15
squeezing the snow in the hands, but an
appreciable amount of air is conﬁned within the pores.
Soaked 5 ts = 0.0
◦C. The snow is soaked with water and >15
contains a volume fraction of air from 20 to 40 %
Is the I-95 Corridor going to get any snow at all out of this storm?
Sadly, due to the inland track that the storm is going to take, warm moist air will travel up the I-95 corridor, and raise temperatures well above the freezing mark, therefore ruining any chances for snow. Temperatures will drop below freezing, but not until Thanksgiving for most along the coast.
NWS Graphical Temperature for Tuesday Afternoon at 4pm EST
(Source: The National Weather Service)
As you can see, temperatures up and down the coast will be in the 40’s to upper 30’s. In this situation, this will be to warm to support snow. Even the highs well inland are in the mid 30’s, which is extremely hard to tell if they are going to get rain or snow.
The NWS Graphical Forecast at 1am EST on Wednesday
(Source: National Weather Service)
Temperatures will still be way to warm to support snow on the coast. Wednesday, looks like it will be the warmest out of all the days the storm will hit. This really shows how dynamic that this system will be. To have temperatures in the mid-60’s and then have temperatures in the 30’s in New York is truly amazing to me.
Are there any factors to be mindful of, other than the snow event?
Yes, yes there is. The National Weather Service, has also issued a high wind watch for central and eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It says that winds have the potential to gust above 55 miles per hour, and be sustained at 25-30 miles per hour. This is just an estimate. The real wind speed, will depend on your proximity to the ocean. The closer you are to the ocean, the faster the winds will be.