Wednesday is the 35th anniversary of the Blizzard of ‘78 in the Boston area. For those of us who experienced that storm we will never forget it. Ironically, we are starting to see the computer models coming into agreement that the potential exists for a very significant coastal storm Friday into early Saturday. We are not suggesting by any means this will be as significant as the storm of 1978, but rather given the public a heads up that something major could be brewing. It could be the biggest snowstorm here in two years.
In the short term we have a weak disturbance that will shift offshore early Wednesday, bringing an end to the snow showers and light snow. The last of the flakes should exit the coast by midday. High pressure will begin to build into the area later Wednesday as a strong high pressure system takes up residence over eastern Canada. This will influence our weather Thursday draining cold air into New England and will supply cold air for the storm on Friday.
Thursday should be a quiet day, albeit a cold one, with lighter winds and a blend of clouds and sun. Skies cloud over Thursday night as the coastal storm begins to take shape off the Mid-Atlantic coast. The initial thrust of snow is expected to be light and could begin by Friday morning. As the storm intensifies and moves northeastward the snow becomes steadier and heavier as we move into Friday afternoon. The track of the storm, as always, will be critical to the extent of the impacts felt locally. But, heavy snow of a foot or more is possible along with very strong winds and coastal flooding, the details of which cannot be dissected at this time. With strong winds also comes a concern for possible power outages. Finally, does enough mild air come ashore to bring a mix of rain on the coast? There will be a chance this occurs, with the best chance over southeast coastal Massachusetts. It is just too early to know at this time.
This storm will be the focus of weather forecasters throughout the next 48 hours or so as we approach the event. Things can change, for better or worse, as we move forward. A slight shift in the storm track forecast can mean a huge difference in storm impacts. Be patient with expectations on what will occur Friday since it will likely be another 24 to 36 hours before we can talk more specifically about the storm impacts. And, please keep in mind that none of the above scenarios are necessarily a certainty as yet. Do stay tuned as this important weather event is closely watched and updated throughout the next couple of days.
Five Day Forecast:
Wednesday: Snow showers come to an end early, followed by partly cloudy skies. High temperatures 35 to 39 degrees. West to northwest winds 5 to 15 mph, with afternoon gusts to near 25 mph.
Wednesday night: Mostly clear and quite cold. Lows falling to 12 to 17. Northwest winds 10 to 18 mph, with higher gusts early at night.
Thursday: Partly cloudy and colder. Highs 24 to 28. Northwest winds 5 to 10 mph, becoming northeast.
Thursday night: Cloudy, with a chance of light snow by morning. Temperatures remaining about steady in the range of 22 to 26.
Friday and Friday night: Potential for heavy snow and windy conditions. Highs 30 to 34. Overnight lows 26 to 30.
Saturday: Snow ends, followed by partly cloudy and blustery conditions. Highs near 30.
Saturday night and Sunday: Partly cloudy, breezy and cold. Lows Saturday night about 10. Highs on Sunday recover to around 30.