A large and powerful storm will bring major coastal flooding to Southern New England along with high winds, heavy rain, and heavy snow. The lack of an Arctic airmass will be the only thing holding this storm back from turning into a widespread blizzard. Where it snows, it will be wet and heavy leading to power outages. Where it rains, rivers and streams may flood. At the coast, multiple high tide cycles will be prone to moderate to major flooding. Forgive me for the hyperbole but the forecast at the coast is not pretty. Just where it exactly snow falls is also a tricky question. Let’s discuss.
The storm system right now is two separate pieces of energy. One is ejecting out of the Southwest towards the Texas/Oklahoma panhandle while the other is diving through the upper Midwest. At the surface, there isn’t much to write home about although there is a chance of severe weather in parts of the South tonight into tomorrow. There are some rain showers moving through Wisconsin and Illinois but not much in terms of wintry precipitation.
On the water vapor satellite, it is hard to see the northern stream energy but the southern stream has a look to it that gets the juices flowing for meteorologists.
Both systems will track east tomorrow. The northern stream will intensify, absorbing the Southern stream. A band of heavy wet snow will develop north of the center while a new area of low pressure forms off the NJ coast. The new system will be large and powerful as heavy wind, rain, and snow lash the northeast overnight Thursday into Friday through early Saturday AM.
I am confident this storm starts as rain for most of Southern New England. As the storm intensifies, it will create some of its own cold air. Rain will change to snow in the higher elevations of Western MA and Northern Worcester County Friday afternoon. How close to the coast will this advance? There lies the uncertainty.
Headlines and Impacts
The National Weather Service in Taunton has already issued Flood Watches, Coastal Flood Watches, and High Wind Watches for portions of the region. The High Wind Watch is confined to Central and Eastern MA as well as RI. You can see the flood watches below.
The storm will likely have a pressure of sub 980 by Friday PM. That will help funnel strong winds across Eastern MA and will probably keep temperatures above freezing during the daylight hours.
There is some cold air behind it so that coupled with the strong upper-level support makes me think a change to snow is possible even into Southern Worcester County, Northern RI and probably even Middlesex/Essex counties as the low slowly wobble away and light fades to darkness Saturday evening. There is support for this on the EURO and the NAM model which is concerning given the storm winds and heavy wet snow potential. This would lead to some power outages. There is the potential for 6-12″ of heavy wet snow overnight Friday into Saturday. BUT, the strong easterly wind off the water may nullify this completely. I need to see more before making a snow map, which I have struggled with over the past few storms anyway. I am leaning towards heavy snow Friday evening, however. Schools may need to dismiss early on Friday.
Winds will gust in excess 60 MPH in Eastern MA, with some higher gusts in the typically prone locations. That will help to create large waves on top of a storm surge.
By far, our greatest concern with Fri-Sat storm is for widespread Moderate to Major coastal flooding along E MA coast over 3 tide cycles! Areas that normally stay dry may flood around high tide. Road closures, basement flooding, & structural damage possible! Prepare now! pic.twitter.com/ibiukszkgQ
— NWS Boston (@NWSBoston) February 28, 2018
The forecast for Sesuit Harbor in Dennis is very close to the record.
This is a scary situation for the coastal communities in MA. Heavy rain may cause river flooding inland as well, although urban and street flooding is more likely. The Blackstone River is forecast to crest around 7-7.5′, which below action stage.
1.5-3″ of precipitation is likely in Southern New England with the lowest amounts just east of the Berkshires.
A large and powerful storm system will begin overnight Thursday into Friday AM. Heavy rain, wind, and surf will pound the region. There is a chance for meaningful snowfall, but that likely wouldn’t begin until Friday afternoon at the earliest. This is the biggest wildcard in my forecast, but the other impacts will make for a memorable storm either way across Southern New England. Check back in tomorrow evening for another update. March is rolling in like a lion.