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Providence weather: Sunny, cold for Friday

The weather map for Southern New England at 1 p.m. EST on February 28, 2014. Mostly sunny skies are expected.
The weather map for Southern New England at 1 p.m. EST on February 28, 2014. Mostly sunny skies are expected.

Forecast discussion: An Arctic front is pushing through Rhode Island as I write this article. Winds may increase during the evening, due to the air pressure rising at a very quick rate. This will tighten the pressure gradient. When the pressure gradient tightens, this helps to increase the wind speeds. Also, the front will produce some snow squalls for the next 90 minutes. By 11 p.m., the squalls will be east of Rhode Island, and skies will begin to clear. Temperatures this evening will just stay above zero, but wind chills will make it feel like 10 to 15 below zero. For northwest Rhode Island, a Wind Chill Advisory is in effect from 10 p.m. to 9 a.m. Friday.

High temperature forecast for February 28, 2014

A strong high pressure system will move over the Northeast U.S., giving us brilliant sunshine. However, that sunshine will have no effect in warming our temperatures. Temperatures will struggle to reach the lower 20’s. Only some warmer air coming from southwest winds Friday night will keep our temperatures from falling into the single digits. Temperatures will reach freezing on Saturday, but we will see increasing clouds throughout the afternoon. The clouds are just the first sign of what is setting up to be a long running storm to end the weekend.

The computer models are all agreeing that a frontal boundary will set up across eastern Texas and move northeast east of the Appalachians and right into Southern New England. Some moisture coming up from the Gulf of Mexico will bring some snow showers by Sunday morning. This activity will be scattered, but will continue until Sunday evening. There will be a brief lull in the precipitation, as high pressure from the north brings in a little bit of dry air. But, the heavier precipitation comes by early Monday morning.

The models agree that the frontal boundary will push back to the north, and over Southern New England. We will begin to see steady light snow through Monday morning, and into the mid-afternoon. It appears that the heaviest snowfall will occur during the evening commute, with moderate to heavy snow at times. Some areas could see snow bands that produce up to one inch per hour snowfall. Also, we will begin to see increasing winds by Monday evening, as high pressure from the west once again tries to build into Southern New England. The snowfall would eventually come to an end by about 6 a.m. Tuesday morning. At this time, it is difficult to put actual snowfall totals on this storm. Despite a low riding up the frontal boundary, the actual location of the frontal boundary is crucial to determine snowfall amounts. For now, I would say the potential of seeing at least 6 inches in Providence by Tuesday morning is very good.

High pressure behind the frontal boundary will then build over New England, and give us dry but continued cold weather into the end of next week. Despite being in early March, high temperatures will be about 10 to 15 degrees below normal.

72 hour forecast:

Tonight: snow squalls until 11 p.m. with clear skies by midnight. It will be bitterly cold with the low falling to 3 degrees. Wind chills will make it feel like 10 below zero. Winds will be gusty at times.
Friday: Mostly sunny with a high of 22. Winds will come from the west-northwest at 11-14 mph. Wind chills will make it feel like 5 to 10 below zero.
Friday night: Partly cloudy with a low of 10. Winds will become light and variable.
Saturday: Sunny through the early afternoon, with increasing clouds the rest of the day. We will see a high of 33.
Saturday night: Mostly cloudy with a low of 28.
Sunday: Some flurries around 7 a.m., with light snow showers around 9 a.m. We will see a high of 35.
Sunday night: Snow showers end by 9 p.m. but will return by 2 a.m. We will see a low of 22.

Extended Forecast:
Monday: Cloudy and windy with light to moderate snow. Highs 26-29, lows 14-17.
Tuesday: Light to moderate snow ending by the start of the morning commute, and becoming partly sunny by the afternoon. Right now, we could see up to 6 inches for total snowfall. Highs 25-28, lows 8-11.
Wednesday: Mostly sunny. Highs 24-27, lows 9-12.
Thursday: Mostly sunny with increasing clouds in the evening. Highs 29-32, lows 11-14.

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