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Another winter storm coming our way

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Once again a winter storm is threatening to impact CT, and once again it is a tricky forecast with not a lot of certainty this far out. Here are the headlines for the next few days:

Friday night (2/28/2014): Scattered clouds and brutally cold temperatures.

Saturday: chance of light snow showers Saturday night, but generally a quiet day.

Sunday: Possible snow showers (rain showers along the coast) Sunday morning through afternoon as cold front passes.

Monday: Not much confidence in this forecast at this time, but best guess for now is at least 6" of snow in the Hartford area, higher amounts towards the coast.

Now for the details. This forecast is tricky because there are a lot of things happening at once across the U.S. and Canada that will need to come together to form this winter storm.

As of Friday afternoon, there is a storm system approaching the southern California coast. There is limited capability to gather data on storms over the ocean, so until this system moves over land and can be accurately measured by weather observation stations, the true nature of the storm dynamics are unknown. But at this point, it appears that the storm will cross the southern tier of the U.S. over the weekend reaching the lower Mississippi Valley by Sunday.

At the same time, another branch of the Polar Vortex centered over Hudson Bay is heading south. The resulting arctic cold front should be crossing New England early on Sunday then stalling out along the mid-Atlantic coast. A wave of energy will be riding along this front as it comes out of Canada.

Now comes the tricky part. If the storm from California phases with the energy from Canada (i.e. both systems reach the Atlantic cost at the same time) and if the arctic front does not not move too far south before stalling, then CT could be in for a whopper of a storm. However, both of those are big if's. This is why although some news outlets have been saying we could be getting as much as 18" of snow, I think 6" is a more likely scenario. We won't really know for certain until Saturday night at the earliest, but it is fair to say at this point that the Monday morning commuteis likelyto be a mess. Be careful driving out there.

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