With such an amazing storm on our hands in the coming days, how could I not help but write a post on it. This storm has amazed me from the minute I laid eyes on it on Friday. People have been comparing it to the Blizzard of 1978. I totally thought this was just hype, until I saw the latest European models over the weekend, which put this system at 952 mb, just off the coast of Nantucket, aiming right over the benchmark. The GFS Model (Global Forecast System), has painted much more of a different scenario. They have gone with a much more eastward solution, giving limited impacts to coastal New England. As the weekend progressed, the models held steady staying with their original forecasts, until this afternoon. This afternoon, the European model and some of the other models have started to trend towards a more eastward solution as the GFS model is currently showing. I understand many of the snow lovers in New England are very upset, because this could have been the biggest storm in a long time, crushing New England with heavy snow, blizzard conditions, and hurricane force wind gusts (NWS), but the war of models has only begun. There is still a chance (I’d say about 35-40% chance that things could change, and the I-95 corridor would still get crushed. With such a low barometric pressure, we could still get some impacts from the storm, even if it were to remain out-to-sea. Below, I have listed the potential storm tracks and the impacts they could bring us.
Possible Track of Wednesday’s Storm
Green full description: If this scenario unfolded, as some of the models suggest, there would be very little impact to New England, except some big surf. This scenario is not the most likely to happen, but at this time, the models do seem to be trending to more of an eastward solution, therefore slightly increasing the odds of the green scenario to unfold.
Blue Full Description: If this scenario unfolded, then some impacts could still be felt in far SE New England. Places like the Cape Cod such as Siasconset, Egartown, Oaks Bluff, Hyannis, Barnstable, Chatham, Sandwich, Manomot, Plymouth, and New Bedford will most likely have the most extreme impacts, in the form of a potential blizzard. Travel in these areas would not be recommended, as roads would become quickly snow covered from very high snowfall rates of 2+ inches an hour. There would be a moderate-high probability that schools will close in these areas if this scenario pans out. Elsewhere, there would be a very sharp cut off line in terms of precipitation amounts north of Duxbury,MA, leaving many areas such as Boston and Metro-West Boston with very little impacts. This is the most likely scenario for this storm, that most of the models seem to have SOMEWHAT of an agreement on. The GFS (Global Forecast System) has always showed this type of scenario panning out for this storm.
Red Full Description: If this senario unfolded, there would be no other way to put it than it would be a VERY historic storm for New England. This is the disaster senario for this storm. Impacts to travel would likely be severe, with heavy winds, snow, and near zero visibility for most of Eastern New England. Highways would be shut down, most likely. Schools would most definitely be closed. This senario is not likely to pan out, but there is still a chance that it could.
Here is the actual GFS and European Model runs for this storm.
0:00 Zulu European model hour 87 | 0:00 Zulu European model hour 96
As you can see from the model above, two massive lows would combine into one, just east of the 40-70 Benchmark, to produce one very low pressure system of 952 millibars. To put 952 millibars in comparison, on a normal day, the average pressure pusing down on us is 1000 millibars. The Blizzard of ’78, a massive storm that wrecked havoc on New England, had a central low pressure of 953 millibars (Wikedpedia). This old European model forecast is 1 millibar lower than the Blizzard of ’78, suggesting that although not as long duration (Wikepedia), could get a lot more wind and severe impacts, leading to downed powerlines, trees, which would knock out the power leaving many who do not have generators (me included) in the dark and cold. The European Model also predicted Hurricane Sandy last year, and the GFS model brought it out to sea. The European Model also correctly forecasted Winter Storm Nemo.
New European Model Runs
12:00 Zulu European Model Run hour 75
Wow, this run shows a central pressure of 948 millibars. Unfortunately, it has shifted further east than the previous run. I do think that, because the pressure is predicted to be so low, that the precipitation field will be much bigger, and much more powerful than previously thought, just as Sandy’s impacts were felt up and down the Northeast coast. This situation would probably only result in moderate snow for Southeast New England, and heavier snow for the Cape and the Islands.
The Global Forecast System’s Take on this Storm:
The GFS model (Global Forecast System) has kept this storm well east of hitting the Northeast coast. Much of the models, including the European model have been trending towards a GFS solution, favoring a more out-to-sea track.
18:00 Zulu GFS Model Run Hour 66
The GFS model is staying mostly off of land. It has done this for most of the weekend, and chances are it will remain this way. It still shows a very powerful system, although not as low as the European Model shows.
Stay Safe, and snowlovers, don’t be upset if this storm passes us by with little impacts.