Forecast discussion: I usually send the forecasts during the evening hours. However, with the computer models forecasting even higher snow totals than last night’s runs, and a day off from my day job, I had the opportunity to give a rare mid-afternoon update.
At this time, the low is beginning to strengthen off the coast of Delaware. Radar imagery shows Rhode Island is seeing the early stages of light to moderate snow in the southern part of the state, with flurries starting in the northern part. The Winter Storm Warning for Rhode Island is already in effect, and will end at 1 p.m. Wednesday afternoon. Already, many after school activities and evening meetings have been cancelled, and parking bans are or will be in effect. For this information, and for any school closings on Wednesday morning, click here.
The only change to the forecast since last night is the snowfall totals. With colder temperatures, the old ratio of 10 inches of snow to 1 inch of rain has increased to about 15 to 1. The reason for the higher ratio is the colder the air, the less moisture the atmosphere can hold. We will see light to moderate snow during the afternoon, but it will pick up in intensity by the start of the evening commute.
As we go through the evening, we will begin to see the full effects of the storm. Winds will be increasing, causing blowing and drifting snow. Snowfall will be increasing, and at some areas, may see one to two inches an hour. This will cause travel to become treacherous, so please be extremely cautious if you have to travel on the roads during the overnight hours.
By the time we begin to shovel our way out Wednesday morning, I am expecting 6-10 inches of snow north and west of Providence. South of Providence, I am expecting 10-15 inches. I would not be surprised if parts of the south coast received 15-18 inches, like Little Compton or Block Island. However, we will still see blowing and drifting snow into the afternoon, until the low pressure center kicks out into the Gulf of Maine later in the afternoon.
After Wednesday night, the next obstacle will be the bitter cold. Thanks to the fresh snowpack, any sunshine we receive will be kicked back into the sky. So, high temperatures will only remain in the upper teens. Overnight lows will remain above zero, but I am only expecting the lower single digits. Any wind during the night will create wind chills around 5 to 10 below zero. So, make sure you do not keep any exposed skin for long periods of time, if you have to work outside during this time.
Temperatures will become milder as we head into Saturday, with daytime highs in the lower 30’s. But, a quick moving low pressure system will bring some more light snow by Saturday evening. The snowfall will be much lighter, and will end by Sunday morning. Another low, an Alberta Clipper, will bring the chance of more snow showers during the daytime hours on Monday. High pressure will control the eastern U.S. on Tuesday, giving us limited sunshine, but temperatures will remain well below normal.
72 hour forecast:
Rest of afternoon: Light snow overspreading the area, with steadier snowfall by the evening commute. One to three inches will be on the ground by 5 p.m.
Tonight: Moderate to heavy snow, strong winds, and cold. Zero visibility is possible in drifting and blowing snow. We will see a low of 13.
Wednesday: Light to moderate snow diminishes through the morning, before ending by 1 p.m. We will see a high of 17. Winds will come from the north-northwest at 18-22 mph while diminishing through the afternoon. So, expect blowing and drifting snow to continue. I’m expecting 6-10 inches north and west of Providence, with the rest of the state seeing 10-15 inches. Wind chills will be 0 to 5 below zero.
Wednesday night: Partly cloudy and bitterly cold with a low of 3. Winds will come from the northwest at 6-9 mph. Wind chills will be 5 to 10 below zero.
Thursday: Partly to mostly sunny with a high of 17.
Thursday night: Mostly cloudy with a low of 4.
Friday: Snow showers around the Cape and Islands in the morning; otherwise, mostly sunny skies. We will see a high of 16.
Friday night: Partly to mostly cloudy and warmer with a low of 11.
Saturday: Mostly cloudy with light snow by the early evening. Highs 31-34, lows 16-19.
Sunday: Snow showers end in the morning, with partly to mostly sunny skies. Highs 25-28, lows 15-18.
Monday: Mostly cloudy with snow showers by dawn, ending in the late afternoon. Highs 25-28, lows 13-16.
Tuesday: Partly sunny. Highs 21-24, lows 12-15.