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Powerful Nor'Easter to Bring Heavy Snow, Rain and High winds Across New England

Updated: Mar 13, 2023


The nor'easter that New England Storm Center has been tracking since this past Tuesday is officially no longer potential. A nor'easter is coming, and it is going to be a pretty powerful one, with a central pressure forecast in the 970-980 millibar range. The track of the storm will ultimately determine who gets what. The forecast track, despite being rather uncertain, has not changed too much over the past couple days.


Some models have trended the track further to the east, keeping the low just offshore of New England, which aligns with our forecast track. Our forecast track has shifted very slightly to the east from yesterday morning, with the center passing just offshore of Cape Cod.



The storm then moves up the coast and could undergo cyclogenesis, strengthening rapidly as it arrives in New England Monday night (3/13). Explosive cyclogenesis, or bombogensis, is now looking likely. This occurs when a storm's central pressure drops at least 24 millibars in 24 hours. With all that said, here is a breakdown of potential impacts.



SNOW


It's looking increasingly likely that somewhere in New England is going to get hammered by intense snowfall. The way everything with this storm is currently trending, this will be a high elevation and interior snowstorm. The higher you go and the further you get away from the coast, the more snow will likely fall.


The National Weather Service of Gray, Maine brings up recent storms when talking about this storm's setup. They state:


"There are several storms in recent memory that this system appears to be showing many characteristics with, including the Blizzard of 2013 and the Blizzard of 2015. They both shared a similar track near the benchmark at 40N/70W into the Gulf of Maine, and then a slow exit to the east. Those systems are the #1 and #4 snowstorms in Portland`s history, respectively."

Both the storms they mention are in the New England snowstorm Hall of Fame (which is currently undergoing a revamp on the website). The service does note that those storms had a "fresh supply of arctic air". This storm does NOT have that. At all. This storm is very unlikely to be a blizzard.


Right now, it looks like the highest snow totals will occur in the Berkshires, Worcester Hills, Litchfield Hills, southern Green Mountains, Monadnocks and White Mountains. Notice that all of these regions are mountains and hills. The one area that is not of elevation that could get into the biggest amounts is in and around New Hampshire's Merrimack Valley.



While heavy snowfall is likely, there are several factors that are working against very large snow totals. For one, this will be a heavy, wet snow, which compresses. This makes it difficult for snow to pile up. Another issue is that there's absolutely no cold air ahead of the storm. While the storm will be able to create its own cold air, there will be nearly no cold air damming in New England. The strong mid March sun angle will melt some snow as it falls.


Some models and outlets are now calling for potentially up to 24 inches of snow in the areas mentioned above. Some are forecasting up to 30 inches in the Berkshires! I'm not sold on amounts that high due to the reasons above. This will be a powerful storm that will likely cause intense snowfall rates, so snowfall up to a foot is certainly a possibility, especially since this will be a long duration event, with snow lingering into Wednesday morning. Details on timing are in their own section below.


Eastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island and the seacoast region of New Hampshire will see some snow, but likely not to the extent of the jackpot areas. The storm will mix with rain, and will likely even start as all rain. Much of these areas will switch over to a mostly snow or snow event by Tuesday afternoon to evening. Snowfall amounts have trended upwards for these areas since yesterday, and could go even higher this evening, so stay tuned.


There could be an extremely sharp cutoff in snow totals. You may not have to travel very far to go from not much snow to a lot of snow, especially in central Massachusetts and southeast New Hampshire. That is what makes this snowfall forecast so difficult, any wobble in the track could cause a dramatic shift in snow totals.



Northern Vermont, northern New Hampshire and much of Maine will likely see a decent thump of snow, but not to the extent of the jackpot areas listed above. This is due to the fact that you are getting further away from the center of the storm, so these areas will not get into the heaviest bands of snow.


RAIN


The south shore and Cape Cod are looking at a mostly rain event. There will be heavy bands of windswept rain, with total amounts likely falling in the half inch to an inch of rain. Further north, the rest of coastal Massachusetts into coastal New Hampshire could be looking at a quarter to a half an inch of rain. The amount of rain will be determined, of course, by how much rain falls before the storm is able to switch over to a mix and snow later on Tuesday.


WIND


Regardless of the precipitation type, there will very likely be strong winds. As the storm strengthens rapidly, the winds will ramp up big time. Much of eastern and coastal New England could see very strong winds. The entire New England coast could see gusts upwards of 50-55mph possible. Cape Cod and the islands could see gusts upwards of 60-65mph. High wind watches have been posted for the Massachusetts coast.



While the wind strength will be focused on Cape Cod and the south shore, gusty winds will be seen across most of New England. The combination of gusty winds and heavy, wet snow on tree branches could lead to problems in the snowfall jackpot areas.



COASTAL FLOODING


While major coastal flooding is not expected as tides are not astronomically high, some minor flooding will likely occur. The entire coast will be battered by large waves, so splashover is possible throughout the storm. Coastal flood advisories could be posted for Cape Cod and the islands.


POWER OUTAGES


The way everything is looking right now, there could be major power problems from this storm. Right now, it looks like there could be two pockets of widespread outages in New England. There could be one area along the south shore and Cape Cod due to damaging winds. The other pocket will likely be central and western Massachusetts into southwest New Hampshire due to heavy, wet snow weighing the branches down.



TIMING


Monday: Clouds build in the afternoon, precipitation begins in southern areas in the mid to late afternoon.


Monday night: Snow falling in the interior and higher elevations. Rain/mix in eastern and coastal areas.


Tuesday morning: Still snowing in the interior, rain/snow mix line will begin to gradually drop southward.


Tuesday afternoon: Rain/snow line drops to near Boston, rain/mix at immediate coast.


Tuesday night: Snow for most of New England, the heaviest snow is over. Rain/mix on Cape Cod.


Wednesday morning: Lighter snow continues. Maine sees steadier snow, mixing at coast.


Wednesday afternoon: Storm very slowly pulls away, snow showers continue.


Wednesday night: Drying out across much of New England, snow showers continue in Maine.


Thursday morning: Storm gone.


Stay with New England Storm Center as this potent nor'easter develops.













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