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Polar vortex: Northeast braces for 10 inches of snow plus

The polar vortex is back and a storm coming through is expected to drop 10 inches of snow blanketing much of the Northeast from Tuesday (Jan. 21) afternoon into Wednesday (Jan. 22) according to The Washington Post. The winter storm will pack quite a punch here in the Boston area, dropping a widespread 5-10 inches over much of Massachusetts and hitting harder on the cape and the islands. Residents in the area are bracing for blizzard conditions with high winds and intense snowfall starting this afternoon.

The snow is expected to start falling in the area in the early afternoon but won't become heavy until about 7 p.m. Driving conditions tonight are expected to be poor and many people are already planning to leave work early in order to get home before the heavy snow starts.

This storm will bring 10 inches of snow to the D.C. area as well as other areas from New Jersey all the way up to Massachusetts. While most people will be seeing about 5 inches of snow out of this storm, the "jackpot" areas will be subject to power outages and other factors associated with blizzards -- some may even see 12"-18" out of this storm when it's all said and done tomorrow mid-morning. At this time meteorologists are not calling the storm a blizzard -- but with the potential for the "magic concoction," the National Weather Service has put out a blizzard advisory in many areas.

In order for a storm to be a blizzard, there are a number of factors that much come together. There must be a steady wind (over 35 mph) for a certain amount of hours, a steady snowfall for the same duration, and low visibility (less than 1/4 mile). The potential for this storm is certainly there but it won't be called a "blizzard" until all of these pieces "officially" come together.

The 10 inches of snow expected in this storm could be a blizzard for some and just a bad snowstorm for others. Either way, people will crowd the supermarkets today -- and most will be out shoveling tomorrow.

© Effie Orfanides 2014

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