A storm system will move off the Virginia coast early Wednesday and develop into a strong ocean storm as it moves out over the open waters south of New England. For several days computer guidance has pushed this system well south of New England with the early thinking the local area would only see minimal amounts of precipitation, gusty winds and coastal impacts as well. Even if the storm is to stay well south there are going to be significant marine effects from the storm with storm force winds and high seas.
However, a slight northward push to the track has changed up the forecast thinking. It now appears more likely that heavy precipitation, rain and snow, along with potentially damaging winds and coastal flooding impacts the Boston area. This is going to be a long duration event, which means several high tide cycles may effect the coastal communities where flooding usually occurs. A strong northeast wind that is expected to last into Thursday night will aid in pushing the water and piling it up toward the shoreline. Unfortunately, significant beach erosion is likely. As one local meteorologist put it this morning, “our beaches are going to look massively different this summer as this winter has been destroying them”.
Forecasters are still trying to nail down where a snow rain line sets up and how much snow accumulation there will be. The coastal plain may escape with far lesser amounts if enough mild air comes in to cause a mix with or even change to rain there. Through the interior, especially west of Route 95, the snow accumulations could be over 6 inches and perhaps much more. Rainfall could exceed 1 inch, possibly as much as 2 inches, with the better chance for this right along the immediate coast, southeast Massachusetts near and along the coast and over Cape Cod. Although there is a chance of snow and rain showers Wednesday, the heaviest of the precipitation looks to ramp up later Wednesday night and continue through Thursday night, winding down early Friday.
The wind impact looks to be significant once again. We have had several storms, going back to “Sandy” where the wind has caused widespread power outages, property damage and impacts on travel. This storm will probably have those same type of impacts, with the National Weather Service indicating that winds could gust to near 50 mph along the coast. Also, when you add the probability of a heavy wet snow this magnifies the chances for downed tree limbs and power lines that can lead to outages.
Temperatures will be marginal throughout this storm, which is typical of March, meaning a change of only a few miles in a rain/snow line could mean a big difference whether a community receives rain, mix or all snow. There is one solution that suggests northeast Massachusetts could be slightly colder and bear the brunt of a significant snowfall all the way to the coast.
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