Forecast discussion: We are about to embark into a historic snowstorm over the next 48 hours. The computer models have been in great agreement over the last few days, with little changes to the overall forecast. So, what can Rhode Island expect?
At this time, the National Weather Service has a Blizzard Warning in effect for the state. The Blizzard Warning will be from 6 a.m. Friday morning until 1 p.m. Saturday. Now, this warning does not have to do with the snowfall totals. The warning is due to the high sustained winds and low visibilities we can expect during Friday evening into Saturday morning.
At this time, the coastal low is moving into eastern Georgia, and will slowly move towards the northeast during the overnight. Also, a low pressure system over Illinois will be slowly moving east. However, this low will be slowly dying, but the moisture and dynamics will be transferred to the low over Georgia. This will help create a powerful Nor’easter for Friday night into Saturday. In fact, almost all cities and towns have cancelled school, with parking bans starting Friday morning. To see a complete list of closings and parking bans, click here.
The first snowflakes should reach Providence between 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. We will see light snow into the early afternoon. Around 3 p.m., I’m expecting winds to slowly increase, with snow becoming moderate. By 6 p.m., snow should become heavy, with winds increasing to 25-30 mph. It will become harder to drive, due to bad road conditions and low visibilities. During the overnight hours, snow will be coming down at 1 to 3 inches per hour with winds of 40-45 mph. Wind gusts could reach 65 mph at times. We may see power outages during this time period.
The conditions will not improve until early Saturday afternoon. The heavier snow will begin to taper to light snow by noon, before ending in the late afternoon.
For the coastline, there will be a period of time when the snow changes to a mix of sleet and rain. However, it will only last for a period of 8 p.m. to about midnight. By then, colder air will return, and turn the precipitation back to all snow. So, total accumulations will be about 10-18 inches along the south coast and Block Island.
For the central part of the state, I’m expecting snowfall totals between 15-24 inches. Due to blowing and drifting snow, some areas may see some 3 feet drifts. The real winners of this storm will be everyone north and west of Interstate 95. By the time we reach Saturday afternoon, 24 to 30 inches of snow will be on the ground.
We will have mostly sunny skies for Sunday, before another low pressure system brings some rainfall on Monday. Temperatures will reach the lower to middle 40’s in the day, which will help melt some of the snowpack. The next storm system will not arrive until next Thursday, with rain in the morning, before precipitation possibly ending as some light snow showers Thursday afternoon.
I will try to update the forecast one last time Friday afternoon. I would like to give you the most up to date information, because I am vulnerable to losing power in strong storms.
72 hour forecast:
Tonight: Cloudy skies with a low of 23.
Friday: Light snow showers to begin around 7 a.m. Moderate snow will begin around 4 p.m. Winds will be increasing from the northeast at 15-25 mph with gusts of 40-45 mph. I’m expecting a high of 34.
Friday night: Heavy snow begins around the start of the evening commute. Snowfall amounts could reach 1-3 inches an hour. Winds will be increasing from the north at 30-40 mph with gusts of 65 mph. Visibilities will be near zero, with white out conditions in some areas. I’m expecting a low of 20. Wind chill temperatures will make it feel like 5 to 10 below zero.
Saturday: Moderate to heavy snow tapering off by the late morning. All snowfall ends by the late afternoon. Winds will begin to diminish to 20-25 mph in the afternoon, with a high of 23.
Saturday night: Partly cloudy and very cold with a low of 9.
Sunday: Mostly sunny with a high of 32.
Sunday night: Mostly cloudy with a low of 18.
Monday: Showers/light rain by the late morning. Highs 43-46, lows 34-37.
Tuesday: Mostly sunny. Highs 40-43, lows 24-27.
Wednesday: Partly to mostly sunny with some possible late evening showers. Highs 40-43, lows 27-30.
Thursday: Showers/light rain in the morning, changing to light snow showers in the afternoon. Highs 40-43, lows 24-27.