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Providence weather: Mostly snow north, with a wintry mix central and south

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Forecast discussion: Since my forecast last night, the National Weather Service has upgraded to a Winter Storm Warning for all of Rhode Island, from midnight to 6 p.m. Wednesday. Unlike the last storm, which brought snow to everyone, this system will bring a mix of winter weather.

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The computer models have been very consistent with the first shield of snow to enter southern Rhode Island from 3 to 5 a.m. It will then move across the entire state in time for the morning commute. Also, this will not be the fluffy, dry snow we have been receiving. Instead, the snowflakes will be wet, and will be mixing with other types of precipitation through the late morning and afternoon.

So, after the morning commute, the south coast will begin to see a mixing with some sleet. By the end of the morning, anyone south of Interstate 295 will be seeing snow mixing with sleet. From Kent County south, we will see a change to plain rain. This will continue into the start of the evening commute. Colder air will then slowly move north to south, changing the precipitation back to snow showers. We will see isolated snow showers and flurries come to an end by early Thursday morning.

Of course, this will cause several delays and cancellations. For information on parking bans, school and business closings, or other information, please click here. So, what will be the final snowfall totals? For anyone living north of Interstate 295, I’m looking for 7-10 inches, although some isolated areas could see up to a foot. From I-295 down into Warwick and Cranston, I am seeing 5-8 inches, thanks to a mixing of sleet and freezing rain. The rest of the state will only see 2-5 inches, as they changed over to freezing rain and rain by the afternoon.

As we head into Thursday, high pressure over the north Central U.S. will take over our weather pattern. The high will keep any storm systems away from Southern New England. Sadly, temperatures will be just below freezing for highs, so we will not see much melting. Eventually, the high will move offshore, allowing for another possible system to bring more snowfall, starting on Sunday.

The computer models continue to disagree on the low’s track, and the intensity of the low. Right now, the American model has the worst case scenario. The low’s center would be just over Newport Sunday night into Monday morning. We would remain on the colder side, and we would be seeing gusty winds. At this time, it appears the precipitation would remain snow through the majority of the time. However, this is still about four and a half days out, so things can definitely change. I will continue to watch the models, and update you on any significant changes in their thinking. By late Monday night, all precipitation ends, with partly sunny skies expected for next Tuesday. However, my confidence in the forecast after Sunday afternoon is still low.

72 hour forecast:

Tonight: Cloudy skies with snow starting between 3-5 a.m. Snow will be moderate to heavy, with 1-2 inches per hour possible. We will see a low of 24.
Wednesday: Moderate to heavy snow continues in the morning. The south coast will see sleet mixing in by 11 a.m. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. a mix of sleet will work from Kent County northward. The south coast will see sleet and freezing rain in the early afternoon. Precipitation will change back to snow showers north to south from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. We will see a high of 35 with northeast winds of 7-10 mph. Winds could increase to 15 mph during the early afternoon.
Wednesday night: Flurries and isolated snow showers end by 2 a.m. We will see a low of 20 with northwest winds at 8-11 mph.
Thursday: Mostly sunny with a high of 29.
Thursday night: Partly cloudy and much colder with a low of 14.
Friday: Mostly sunny with a high of 30.
Friday night: Partly cloudy with a low of 16.

Extended Forecast:
Saturday: Mostly sunny. Highs 29-32, lows 16-19.
Sunday: increasing clouds through morning, with overcast skies with light snow falling by 5 p.m. Highs 31-34, lows 18-21.
Monday: Moderate to heavy snow by 1 a.m. with strong winds. Snow becomes lighter by the start of the evening commute. Highs 30-33, lows 12-15.
Tuesday: Snow ends by 2 a.m. with partly sunny skies. Highs 23-26, lows 8-11.

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