A tricky forecast ahead
This discussion is purely on POTENTIAL as the players are still coming together and there is still some wiggle room going into the weekend. There is plenty to be concerned about here. First and foremost, is the amount of moisture associated with this frontal boundary. As you can see, the hose is attached from the southeast which will fuel into this. Between Wednesday night and early Sunday, the region is on track to get a healthy dose of it. This is the European model ensembles, which tends to be a bit on the juicy side. It suggests in this run that 1-2" of liquid equivalent precipitation is possible to come to the region. Given the recent snow, in conjunction with as cold as it has been, this likely going to pose some problems.
One blessing in all of this, not all the precipitation is likely to be liquid at landfall. As you can see, all four food groups above are in play here. My greatest concern at this point, is for southern and eastern areas, as most of the liquid appears to fall there. The warm up of Tuesday has allowed some snow to melt. While we cool a bit Wednesday, temperatures rise again for Thursday into Friday. With as cold as it has been, the ground cannot absorb any liquid. It will have to go somewhere. Storm drains. Ditches. Brooks, rivers and streams. With many of the tributaries frozen solid, runoff is likely to cause the potential for ice jams, which leads to flooding. Urban street flooding from clogged street drains are a possibility, also.
A rough guestimate is coastal areas will likely get half of the precipitation in the form of liquid. Based on the European ensemble idea, that would mean roughly an inch. That is enough to not only cause flood potential, but also problems with unshoveled roofs of houses and buildings.
It is too early to tell if the mountains and north will be able to escape this. Guidance is playing around with several scenarios involving the position of the front and intensity of the developing low along it. The model runs of Wednesday morning and evening will help narrow down the track of the low forming along the front, where the cold air to the north and west will set up and how much cold air damming at the surface this will cause for Saturday. For now, if you are reading this from Seacoast New Hampshire or in the heart of the Allagash, be prepared to see ALL forms of precipitation between Friday night through Sunday morning.
As I have said before, many things have to go right for freezing rain to occur. The question at this point is does the cold arrive in time at the surface to make that happen. Usually, the cold air is already here when warm air invades aloft. This is a scenario where cold air bleeds into the surface with warm air already being here to begin with.
If you have plans for the weekend to travel, even if it is to run simple errands around town, you'll want to stay updated on this forecast. This is all low confidence on just how it will all play out, but confidence is high that the entire state will have to deal with some amounts of rain, freezing rain, sleet and/or snow between Wednesday night and Sunday, with Saturday being the potential ice concern.
No accumulation expected
A few flakes will fly in the mountains and north today with a few stragglers reaching the shorelines. Isolated areas may get a dusting out it, otherwise, no accumulation is likely. Southern and eastern zones see high temperatures above freezing for the first time since December 26th. The mountains and north stay on the chilly side with highs in the 20s. Wind speeds will pick up in the afternoon, gusting from the northwest in the 20-30 mph range.
The breeze settles down tonight, skies clear out, and temperatures fall to around 0° for the north country to around 10° at the coast.
Thursday through Sunday appear messy
This gif image is presented to you to get rough idea of what to expect from Wednesday afternoon onward. There is some light freezing rain to contend with Wednesday night into Thursday morning, but it will be light enough that accretion concerns are not a concern. Freezing rain changes to all rain statewide by Thursday afternoon. Rain continues into Friday. Low pressure forms along the cold front and moves northeast during the day Saturday, which will bring in some sleet, but the main concern will be for freezing rain. The end time of all of this is still in question for Sunday. Most areas may see some snow as a parting gift as the storm moves northeast and the frontal boundary slides offshore. Guidance has varying ideas when that will happen. A blend of their ideas as snow ending Sunday morning south and west and in the afternoon for the north and east.
Stay tuned for more updates.
The 5-Day Outlook page has been updated through Sunday.
The price of the brief warm up
A quick update here as I am pressed for time...
No real changes to the forecast through late week. Snow showers Tuesday, primarily in the mountains and north, with little to no accumulation. Wednesday is void of precipitation until evening. There appears to be some light freezing rain/drizzle Wednesday night into Thursday, changing to all rain by Thursday afternoon. Rain continues into Friday. A cold front approaches the region Friday night, and low pressure travels up along it into Saturday. This is where it becomes as mess. As you can see with the graphic, all four food groups of precipitation types are on this chart. Confidence is growing that this storm will track southwest to northeast over the interior of the state, which will bring the wintry mix. It is still early to hammer out details, but a slick, icy day on Saturday with snow on the backside into early Sunday is on the discussion table. So if you have weekend plans, you will want to stay tuned for updates.
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HRRR futurecast radar
No real changes to the forecast I presented here on Sunday. All in all, this won't be a big deal, but just enough to be a nuisance and slick the roads up a bit. Heaviest of the snow falls in the afternoon in time for the evening commute. This may not be a textbook "Body Shop Special" for southern areas, but could be for Augusta, Waterville and Bangor, with just enough accumulation to cause accidents by careless driving. The snow is likely to stick on any untreated areas given the deep cold as of late.
To dry slot or not to dry slot... that is the question
I will micromanage this forecast a bit here of the potential for a low level dry slot that could knock down the already low accumulation predicted for the southwest coast. If this happens, snow totals around the Portland area south may amount to a dusting. Guidance is somewhat conflicted about this occurring. The difference here is an inch or two of accumulation.
Because of that subtle conflict, I am not going to change my snow prediction. Areas where I may bust high would be in northern areas around the Van Buren area and Katahdin which could see around 6" at most. Areas where I may bust on the low end would be the southwest coast around Portland, the MidCoast, and perhaps Lewiston/Auburn. This is hair splitting at this point, because this isn't a big deal in the first place.
Breeze picks up today
After a day where the wind finally took a break, it will pick up again this afternoon as the front approaches. It will be strong enough where it may reduce visibility a bit during the evening commute as the heavier snow showers and squalls work through.
Have a good day, and travel safe!
A nuisance snow that could bring slick spots
A look at the Sunday morning surface map shows the polar high to the southwest which will move east today, That will set up a southwest flow as a long wave warm front approaches the region to kick off the work week.
Outlook through Tuesday
As the polar high heads for the Atlantic, warm air moves in aloft and may touch off some flurries and squalls for the mountains and north Sunday. As warm air continues to build in ahead of the front, snow shower activity becomes more widespread overnight. The steadier snow falls Monday afternoon, which could turn the evening commute into a Body Shop Special. The deep cold of late will allow the snow to stick which will grease the roads up. The steadier snow turns back to snow showers by late evening Monday, and will linger into Tuesday.
It won't be much, but enough to have to get out and clean up for most of the state. The high end amounts are likely for northern and eastern areas away from the shorelines, along with the ski hills.
Warmer air arrives for late week
After a weak high takes over briefly on Wednesday, as that slides offshore, warmer air works in for the last half of the work week. Wednesday appears precipitation free until evening. As a warm front approaches from the southwest, it could bring a chance for a wintry mix of sleet and freezing drizzle or rain in the overnight as we head into Thursday.
While guidance has locked into warmer air taking control, I am throwing caution flags as to how the remainder of the week plays out. An "inside runner" is on the minds of models to impact the region Friday into Saturday, which could bring rain to the south and east and perhaps a wintry mix to areas of the mountains and north. Models and cold air have a rough time, so I am not willing to bank on the outcome of that just yet.
I will update as the week progresses.
5-Day Outlook page is updated through Friday.
Surface map outlook
The latest blizzard is continuing to work its way into Labrador and dragging the coldest air of the season (aren't you just tired of me saying that?) for the weekend. For now, it appears this arctic blast will be short lived. A front is on track to work the deep cold out of here by the first of the week. Another cool high trails in behind for Wednesday, and signals of the January thaw are growing for late in the week.
So. Nasty. Cold.
Wind chill advisories and warnings will be a certainty for Saturday and Sunday. Saturday's high temperatures won't make it above zero, unless you are out on an ocean island, and then it won't be by much. Double digit below zero temperatures are on the docket for Saturday night most everywhere. Temperatures modify a bit heading into Sunday. By Monday this round of cold is headed offshore as the front approaches.
Monday / Tuesday a bit snowy
As the arctic high heads offshore, a southwesterly flow develops and warms temperatures to a bit more of a bearable level. The side effect will be the threat for some light snow around the area. Not to cause any alarm, but I smell a skunk in the barnyard here for Tuesday. Guidance at one time indicated a spin up area of low pressure along the front that looked like a decent snow maker for coastal areas. Models have backed down on that idea for now. A chance for snow showers for Tuesday is in the 5-Day Outlook, and I will track this through the weekend and update in case of a change.
Not quite shorts and flip-flop weather, but...
We may see some widespread 30s and perhaps 40s statewide by Thursday as the cold air retreats. I will caution that this warm up may be short lived. That cold over the Midwest is headed eastward. Wherever cold meets warm, there is a storm. Keep that in mind for any plans for next weekend.
The 5-Day Outlook page has been updated. You can click on the menu tab to get you there.
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Be blessed, and stay warm!
Entering the teeth of the storm
FROM THE STORM PREDICTION CENTER:
Mesoscale Discussion 0006 NWS Storm Prediction Center Norman OK 1034 AM CST Thu Jan 04 2018 Areas affected...NH into southern and central ME Concerning...Heavy snow Valid 041634Z - 042130Z
SUMMARY...Heavy snowfall rates (of at least 1"/hour) are spreading northward across New Hampshire and through southern into central Maine through the afternoon and early evening. Higher rates of 2-3"/hour expected into PWM (Portland) between 19-22Z (3 PM - 5 PM) and MLT (Millinocket) between 21-00Z (4 PM - 7 PM) . In addition to heavy snowfall rates, the intensifying storm system will result in strengthening winds to produce blizzard conditions across coastal regions of New England.
DISCUSSION...Heavy snowfall rates will continue to spread to the west and north across NH into the early afternoon associated with a snow band extending from western CT to southern NH/southwest ME per mosaic radar. A second frontogenetic (very heavy snow) band is expected to develop by early afternoon from northeast MA to coastal and southern ME. The forcing for ascent attendant to the second frontogenetic (very heavy snow) band is expected to enhance snowfall rates into the 2-3" per hour range by 19Z across southern ME and then by 21Z into central ME as this band shifts poleward. Forecast soundings suggest the increase in upward vertical motion should occur within the dentritic-growth zone, enhancing snowfall rates, while steepening midlevel lapse rates could support upright convection/thundersnow potential. The heavy snowfall rates are associated with a strong, dynamic winter storm affecting New England through today into this evening. Further deepening of the surface low is expected (1 MB/hour) through 21Z, as it tracks to the north-northeast, reaching the Atlantic waters southeast of Cape Cod (approximately 41N/69W).
MY DISCUSSION: I tried to "humanize" this discussion from SPC to give you and idea of what to expect. The "increase in upward vertical motion should occur within the dentritic-growth zone, enhancing snowfall rates, while steepening midlevel lapse rates could support upright convection/thundersnow potential" validates the 700 mb vertical velocity graphic I displayed in my earlier update. What all this scientific gibberish says it is going to dump large volumes of snow, and I expect that the 2-3" estimate may be a bit conservative.
This storm appears to land in Nova Scotia around 948 mb which makes this storm more powerful than the Late October Gale, The Perfect Storm, and any of the recent blizzards the region has experienced.
Presented here is the 16z (11 AM) HRRR model idea on how this will play out through 4 AM Friday. The coastal front that I discussed is likely to cut down on snow totals for DownEast areas and central Washington County. Heavy snow begins to taper over southwest areas by around 10-midnight, Bangor by 3-5 AM, with snow continuing in The County until Friday morning.
Be aware that snow showers will continue into Friday statewide as the next arctic front moves in.
Wind still a concern
This is also from the 16z (11 AM) HRRR model run. Many areas will hit 30+ mph. I think this underestimates the wind speeds for the shorelines and southern and eastern interior areas. Even after the storm passes, the wind will continue to blow snow around into Friday night. Power outages remain a concern.
Snow totals on track
I see no reason to change my snowfall idea posted earlier. The snow is coming in at a high ratio, and with the heavy snow bands still to come, this will be close. Again, this storm won't be remembered by measurement in inches but by feet of drifts. . Where I may bust is in interior Washington County if the coastal front works in deeper.
The 12z (7 AM) NAM-WRF model idea, if it verifies, may indicate that my earlier call was underdone. We shall see.
Outlook through the weekend
This is surface analysis from the Weather Prediction Center as of 10 AM Thursday. After the blizzard passes by, the coldest air yet arrives for the weekend. A long wave front arrives to start the week. Monday appears to have light snow region wide. Tuesday is a bit of a question mark. Guidance is playing around with the idea of a possible storm to develop along the front as it crosses into the Atlantic, which may impact the region. Models are also hinting at a possible warm up for the region late in the week. The strong ridge over the west coast that has funneled cold air into the area for the past few weeks shows signs of a possible collapse, which would allow the cold air to retreat north, and give the region a chance to thaw out. Time will tell... stay tuned.
The 5-Day Outlook has been updated. You can click on the tab on the menu to get you there.
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The storm is impressive
Enhanced satellite imagery shows a very strong storm. An eye is visible, and it is very large. This is a classic high impact NorEaster that will deliver very strong wind, copious amounts of snow and coastal flooding to the state Thursday into Friday.
Snow overspreads the region
HRRR model idea issued at 09z (4 AM) shows snow developing over the state through the morning. Confidence is increasing that the DownEast coast may see a period of mixing as the storm approaches Nova Scotia this evening.
High wind concerns elevated
Given the strength of the storm with a track that is slightly west, wind concerns continue to grow. Hurricane force wind warnings have been issued by the National Weather Service for the offshore areas of Penobscot Bay through Washington County. As I have stated several times leading up to this storm, the ice over the interior from the pre-Christmas storm is a big concern of mine. With the projected wind over land expected to reach 40-60+ mph, power outages are likely to happen.
Coastal concerns continue
With the ice in the harbors, astronomical high tides, strong wind, a 1-3 foot storm surge and seas 16-21 feet, the high tide at 1 AM Friday could bring substantial damage to areas along the shorelines. Anyone with shoreline property and/or watercraft should stay in touch with the National Weather Service for the latest bulletins.
Snowfall totals increased
With the storm evolving into a sub 960mb cyclone as guidance has suggested with tropical moisture attached to it, snow will be copious with this event. Bands of very heavy snow will impact the region this afternoon which road crews will have difficulty keeping up with. Snowfall rates could be in 1-4" per hour range, possibly higher for eastern Maine into Aroostook.
With the cold air locked in for much of the state, I expect a high ratio snow event. This will be a storm that won't be measured in inches, but in feet of drifts. Shoreline areas from Penobscot Bay to around Eastport may be spared the big snow due to a coastal front bringing sleet and rain as the storm approaches Nova Scotia this evening. The ski hills will do extremely well with this storm, but with the coldest air yet to arrive in the aftermath of the storm, it may be difficult to get out to enjoy the fresh powder. Wind chills in the -20° to -40° are expected by Saturday morning.
PLEASE stay in touch with the National Weather Service through NOAA Weather Radio or use the Weather Radio by WDT smartphone app to get the latest bulletins in regards to this event.
Major storm to affect the whole east coast
Overnight, the Gray and Caribou National Weather Service offices hoisted blizzard warnings. Yes, those are hurricane wind warnings offshore of North Carolina that extend all the way to Georges Bank. As I mentioned in Tuesday evenings post, I expect many other types warnings to be issued in regards to this storm. The situation is very fluid, and I strongly suggest you stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio or use the Weather Radio by WDT app for your smartphone to get the latest bulletins for your area.
The pieces are coming together
The three main players in storm formation are coming together. The hose energy has reached the Gulf of Mexico. The driver energy over the Midwest will push the hose eastward along a frontal boundary and form the storm this morning. The kicker energy will drop down from the Canadian Prairies and force the rapidly developing cyclone northeast, and deliver even colder air to New England after the storms departure.
Storm track continued west overnight
Overnight guidance has shifted the storm slightly west yet again. The center of the cyclone slides slightly east of the 40°N / 70°W benchmark location. It is on track to make landfall near Yarmouth, Nova Scotia based on the latest trend. As a result, heavier snow and wind is possible for Maine and points southeast.
Wind the major concern
The greatest threat affecting the region is the wind and remains worrisome for me. With the area iced up from the pre-Christmas storm, the power outage concern is a real one. Hurricane force winds are likely for the Gulf of Maine, Cape Ann and Cape Cod. With the ice in the harbors, the wind, in combination with the waves will move it. This is set up to be a very nasty coastal storm, with damage more than likely to occur along the shorelines.
Presented here is the 06z (1 AM) NAM-WRF model run through Friday at 1 PM. I will forewarn you to not focus on the precipitation type as the model has a warm bias among other issues. The arctic front and weak low over the Great Lakes converges with the approaching storm, and as I mentioned in a post two days ago, has drawn the storm closer to the area. The area will see conditions deteriorate Thursday morning, with snow and wind increasing with intensity during the afternoon and evening. Steadier snowfall ends Friday morning, but gusty winds and snow showers are on track to persist for much of the day, and into the evening for northern Maine.
Snowfall idea remains the same... for now
I am not going to change my idea on projected snowfall just yet. I have concerns of whether the westward trend is going to continue, and suspect there may be an adjustment to the track to the east. The other concern is the 06z NAM run above. If guidance continues west like the idea the NAM is presenting, that brings a wintry mix into the equation and bumps up totals further west into the mountains. I will monitor the morning model suites and adjust, if necessary, later this afternoon.
This storm is shaping up to be a memorable one. Make sure you finish preparations for your property and top off the gas tank in you vehicle before you end the travel of the day.
Seven year forecaster.