Quincy's Latest Snowfall Forecast

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By Quincy Vagell on February 7, 2013, 7:15pm Last modified: February 8, 2013, 5:30am

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-Light snow develops between 3 and 7 a.m. and continues through the morning.
--1 to 2 inches of snow will be on the ground by lunchtime making for slippery travel.
---The shoreline may briefly mix with ice or rain, but mostly snow is expected. 

-Snow becomes heavy between 1 and 4 p.m. (Be where you need to be by 4 p.m.)
-Snowfall rates of 1 to 3 inches per hour from 5 p.m. Friday through 5 a.m. Saturday.

-Strongest winds from 6 p.m. Friday through early afternoon on Saturday.
-Winds 20 to 35 MPH sustained. Gusts to 50 MPH, except 60 MPH coast and eastern CT.
-Power outages are likely, especially along the shoreline and in areas east of I-91.

-Blizzard/whiteout conditions from 5 p.m. Friday through midday Saturday.
-Travel will be difficult or impossible all night Friday and through Saturday morning.

-The heaviest snow ends by daybreak, but periods of snow continue through midday.
--Any snow completely ends by early afternoon.
---Winds stay gusty into the second half of Saturday, causing blowing/drifting snow.

-12 to 20 inches for a large portion of the state, including the immediate shoreline.
-20+ inches across the northwest hills and northeastern CT. (2 feet possible in spots)

The computer models are in unanimous agreement with a major winter storm bringing blizzard conditions to much of the state.
18z GFS - 12 to 20 inches across the entire state. It is the most conservative as it shows about 1.2 to 1.7 inches of liquid equivalent precipitation across the state. The model has cooled off compared to previous runs and now appears to be just about snow in all areas for the entire storm. With 850mb temperatures holding below freezing, only perhaps the shoreline of Fairfield and New Haven counties could see a brief wintry mix.
12z Euro - 15 to 25 inches for most areas, 8 to 15 inches southeast coast. It remains the most aggressive (and consistent) model as it brings 1.5 to 2.5 inches of precipitation to the state.
18z NAM - 15 to 30 inches across the state. This is similar to the Euro, but the NAM has a tendency to over-estimate precipitation. As a result, it dumps anywhere from 2 to 2.6 inches of liquid and plasters interior western CT with over 2 feet. The higher resolution maps do show some shadowing in the CT River valley, with the lowest totals (15-20") in that area. While it does show a few hours of mixed precipitation along the I-95 corridor, temps/heights crash down and bring heavy snow right down into eastern Long Island.
18z SREF - 14 to 20 inches across the state. The ensemble members show variations from NAM-like totals, to some lighter scenarios like the GFS. With that said, a few members do bring mixed precipitation as far north as Meriden-Norwich, but the mean keeps everyone north of I-95 all snow. The precipitation maps also hint at some shadowing, resulting in lower totals in Tolland County.
18z RGEM - 15 to 25 inches across the state. This high resolution version of the Canadian is somewhat similar to the Euro, but keeps the heaviest precipitation across the eastern half of CT. Here, the model is cold enough to bring 20" snowfall totals right down to the southeast CT shoreline.

Model average - 17 to 23 inches. This assumes a 14:1 ratio in NW CT, but only a 8:1 ratio in SE CT and weights every model equally. The Euro has been the most consistent and this forecast is pretty close to what that model shows. The GFS is the lowest resolution of the pack and this may account for slightly lower precipitation amounts.

Final thoughts:
I think that the vast majority of this storm is all snow, even on the shoreline. However, there are still marginal temperatures expected during the daylight hours on Friday, which might result in a few hours of a wintry mix. There is so much cold air in place that it's even possible for an area of freezing rain for a few hours, but once heavier precipitation moves in, the snow line crashes south into LI.
The final wildcard will still be a band (or two) of intense snowfall that moves through. These bands will bring 2-3" per hour snowfall rates for several hours, along with the potential for thunder and lightning. I could see a situation similar to Feb. 2006 where an intense band of snow set up from N NJ into W CT, resulting in snowfall totals of 20 to 30 inches. Now, while the storm track appears to be too far east for a band this far west, the moisture field at 850-700mb is huge. It literally backs into central NY state and northern New England with respect to 90% RH values. It's impressive to see a low pressure center track to near or even just southeast of the benchmark (40N 70W) and produce heavy snow all the way back into eastern PA and E NY. This is likely and the end result is a major to perhaps historic winter storm.
I expect a situation where two areas/bands of heavy snow set up. The first favors heavy snow in the NW hills, where although total precipitation amounts may be lighter, colder air will result in snow to liquid ratios near 14:1, on average. The second area is across northeastern CT, where there is a strong possibility for 2"+ of precipitation. Throw in an average 10:1 ratio and the result is 20"+ of snow.
The shoreline could range anywhere from 12 to 20 inches, depending on how long any mixing lasts and how far south the heavy snow bands pivot. I think as you move inland, totals will generally be 15 to 20 inches.

Stay tuned to WXedge.com for all the latest updates throughout the storm.

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Quincy Vagell

Town: Marlborough, CT  

Reporting for WXedge since January 2012.

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