Forecast discussion: With a Nor’easter developing early Wednesday morning, the National Weather Service has put Rhode Island under a Winter Storm Watch from 1 a.m. Thursday morning until 7 a.m. Friday morning. A watch means that the state could see 6 inches or more of snowfall during the duration of this storm. However, the rain-snow line will make the greatest difference in what our final snow totals will be Friday afternoon.
Right now, a weak high pressure ridge is influencing our area, although we might see a flurry or two this evening. The morning commute on Wednesday looks to be fine, as we may see a scattered rain or snow shower in the morning. By this time, a second low will form off the Mid-Atlantic coast, and become the main low by tomorrow night. As the low moves slowly east, we will see a high amount of precipitation. The only question is what type of precipitation will be falling.
After looking over all the computer models, it appears that the rain-snow line will be right along a line from Boston to Providence. So, at the moment, the area north and west of Providence will see a wet snow. In Providence down to the Kent County line, I’m expecting a mix of rain and wet snow. South of the line, this area should see all rain. However, the south shore will be dealing with strong winds, as well as some possible coastal flooding. Also, beach erosion is possible, as the winds will be coming from the east on Thursday. Also, the precipitation will be heavy at times, as the heaviest moisture moves over Southern New England.
As we move into Thursday night, wet snow should over take Providence, and move down to the Kent County line. From the line south, I am expecting a mix of wet snow with rain. Again, the precipitation will be moderate, so there may be snowfall to be plowed in northwest Rhode Island during this time period. With strong winds, driving will be extremely difficult, especially along the coastline. Although the precipitation will be rain, driving winds will make seeing very difficult.
So, what can we expect for snowfall amounts by Friday afternoon, when the precipitation begins to taper off? Well, it is really hard to say at the moment. If the rain-snow line changes even 30 miles either way, the snowfall amounts change drastically. For now, I will say that the northwestern part of Rhode Island will see the most snowfall. The numbers decrease as you move further south. At this time, I am comfortable saying that everyone north of Interstate 95 will see about 5-9 inches. From the Providence area down to the Kent County line, I see about 4-6 inches. Finally, the southern part of the state will see about 2-4 inches.
As you can see from my slideshow, the television stations have a different view as well. One station is a little higher with these amounts, while another is actually lower, feeling we will see warmer air remain over most of the state, especially during the daytime on Thursday. So, why I am going in-between the snowfall amounts?
For one thing, we have had several days with daytime highs in the lower to middle 40’s. This has helped warm our ground temperature. Also, most of the snow from the blizzard three weeks ago has melted. So, it will take some time for the ground to get cold enough for it to stick. Finally, I feel the rain-snow line will be slightly further north than what I see in the models. I do expect to see the most snowfall Wednesday night into Thursday.
Once the storm moves out to sea, the weekend looks quite nice. High temperatures will be warming to the middle 40’s by Monday, before a new cold front brings some moderate to heavy precipitation on Tuesday. This time, however, the precipitation looks to remain as rain.
72 hour forecast:
Tonight: Mostly cloudy with a passing flurry and a low of 32. Winds will be slowly increasing towards dawn.
Wednesday: Becoming windy with a scattered shower or flurry in the morning. Will see light snow north and west of Providence, a mix of sleet and rain Providence down to the Kent County line, and rain from there to the south shore. We will see a high of 42, with northeast winds of 16-20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph.
Wednesday night: Moderate wet snow north and west of Providence, a mix of rain and snow Providence down to the Kent County line, with rain from there to the south shore. We will see a low of 33, with north-northeast winds of 21-26 mph with gusts of 40 mph.
Thursday: Windy with moderate snow north and west of Providence, wet snow by the late morning Providence to the Kent County line, and rain and snow mix south of the line. We will see a high of 36.
Thursday night: Windy with light to moderate snow down to the Kent County line, with a mix of snow and rain south of the line with a low of 33.
Friday: A mix of snow and rain showers ending by the evening commute, but remaining mostly cloudy, with a high of 42.
Friday night: Mostly cloudy with a low of 33.
Saturday: Partly to mostly sunny. Highs 41-44, lows 26-29.
Sunday: Mostly sunny. Highs 43-46, lows 30-33.
Monday: Mostly sunny during the day, with increasing clouds by the late afternoon. Highs 45-48, lows 34-37.
Tuesday: Periods of moderate to heavy rain into the afternoon, before tapering off in the evening. Highs 48-51, lows 35-38.