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Providence weather: A quiet Tuesday before the snowstorm

The weather map for Southern New England at 1 p.m. EST on February 4, 2014. Mostly sunny skies are expected.
The weather map for Southern New England at 1 p.m. EST on February 4, 2014. Mostly sunny skies are expected.

Forecast discussion: After several hours of light snow, Providence is seeing the last few flakes fly in the air. The low pressure system that brought the snowfall is moving away from Block Island. Unfortunately, I did bust on this forecast. I did the forecast Sunday afternoon, and the evening models showed the low would stay closer to the coastline. This meant the precipitation shield would remain over the region longer than I originally forecasted. Because of this, most of Providence received about 2 inches of snow, while parts of southern Rhode Island saw 4 inches. I had only forecast an inch at the most for Providence.

Possible snowfall totals for Wednesday, February 5, 2014

However, I do know that the computer models have been seeing another significant storm for early Wednesday morning. High pressure moving through the Great Lakes will give us some dry weather for Tuesday. But, the National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch from midnight Wednesday morning until 6 p.m. Wednesday night. This alert was put out because the computer models are forecasting at least 6 inches of snow to fall from this system.

A developing area of low pressure over western Texas will be quickly moving into the southeast U.S. by tomorrow night. The precipitation shield will be moving north of the low, so we will be seeing the first flakes from this system by early Wednesday morning. We will be seeing moderate to heavy snow, especially during the morning commute. The heavy snow will continue into the early afternoon. Along the coast, we will be seeing the snow mix with some sleet and freezing rain. A little freezing rain and rain showers are possible north and west of Providence during the early afternoon. By the start of the evening commute, the precipitation will begin to change back to light snow. At this time, 6-10 inches is very possible along northern Rhode Island, while a line from Warwick south will see 3-6 inches. However, this can quickly change, as the models may change the precipitation type over the next 24 hours. So, please check back tomorrow night for the latest update.

By early Thursday morning, we will see a reprieve from any storm systems. A strong high pressure system will remain over the Mid-Atlantic Thursday and Friday. Temperatures will remain in the lower 30’s, but overnight lows will remain in the teens. The first half of the weekend will remain quiet, but we may be seeing another potential snow storm for next Monday.

At the moment, only the American model develops a low pressure system over Mississippi early Sunday morning. A secondary low will form to the east of the system, and the secondary low brings the precipitation shield northward. Based on the current track of the low, we would see mostly snow, although the coastline would see a brief changeover to freezing rain or sleet during the morning hours. Then, colder air behind the low turns the precipitation back to snow. At this time, my confidence in next Monday’s forecast is very low. I only have one computer model showing this scenario, and some models only go out six days into the future. So, I want to see some other scenarios before I begin to change the forecast.

72 hour forecast:

Tonight: Snow showers end by 8 p.m. with partly cloudy skies in the overnight. We will see a low of 23.
Tuesday: Mostly sunny with a high of 36. Winds will be light and variable.
Tuesday night: increasing clouds with moderate to heavy snow by 3 a.m. We will see a low of 26. Winds will turn to the northeast at 3-7 mph by 4 a.m.
Wednesday: Moderate to heavy snow in the morning, mixing with some freezing rain and rain along the southern Kent County and the south coast in the early afternoon. North and west of Providence will see a mix of freezing rain and rain by the early afternoon. Precipitation turns to snow showers everywhere during rush hour of the evening commute. We will see a high of 36.
Wednesday night: Snow showers end by midnight with clearing skies. We will see a low of 22.
Thursday: Mostly sunny with a high of 29.
Thursday night: Partly cloudy and much colder with a low of 13.

Extended Forecast:
Friday: Mostly sunny. Highs 30-33, lows 15-18.
Saturday: Mostly sunny. Highs 30-33, lows 17-20.
Sunday: increasing clouds by the late morning, with overcast skies and light snow by 5 p.m. Highs 31-34, lows 18-21.
Monday: Moderate to heavy snow. There could be some mixing with sleet and rain along the coast during the mid-to late morning hours. Highs 30-33, lows 20-23.

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