The hype over this upcoming snow storm is enormous...more than any snow event I can recall.
It really reached a fever pitched yesterday afternoon when Jim Cantore from The Weather Channel posted a computer model that gave Portland 57" of snow. 1) Not going to happen 2) Jim you owe me a new inbox. Is the hype justified? We will dive into the nitty gritty in just a moment, first we can't ignore today.
Today: Mostly sunny and cold. Temperatures will stay cold with highs in the low 20s along the coastline but only teens inland and single digits in the mountains. Some high thin clouds will creep in from the west during the afternoon.
Ok let's do this thing...
First let me admit I was very skeptical of this storm in the beginning. When I saw it appear on the EURO model Sunday morning; I was ready to write it off. The pattern seemed to progressive (fast moving) to allow for a huge storm to take the correct path offshore...not to the mention the fact that the timing of phasing between the inland "shortwave" and coastal low had to be PERFECT for this to work.
Well, guess what? The timing turned out to be perfect and will yield a true coastal "bomb" of low pressure system. Still, my original thoughts regarding our progressive pattern, the jetstream position, and placement of the high to the north continue to haunt me. All this has led me to forecast lower totals than you will likely see elsewhere. I see the upside, trust me, I see the big 24"+ amounts..several computer models are hitting me over the head with them. But I also see the things I DON'T like about this storm and refuse to ignore them.
Timing: Clouds increase tonight but for the most part it's going to be quiet. It wouldn't shock me to see a little snow shower activity over far southern and western Maine during the early morning hours but no big deal there. During the later morning hours (8-9 AM) snow will begin developing from Portland south and west into the mountains. This stuff will be light though because it's actually going to be from the "shortwave" that will eventually develop into the coastal low...not the low itself. That light snow shield slowly lifts northward and hits Bangor around 2-3 PM while not reaching Millinocket until the evening. Meanwhile over southern and Midcoastal Maine the snow starts really picking up during the late afternoon and early evening with about 2-4" likely by 8 PM. From 10 PM on it will start really THUMPING snow pretty much statewide with the exception of far northern Maine. Snowfall rates of 2-3" an hour are very likely particularly close to the coastline with a few pockets of thundersnow also possible (thundersnow is the Holy Grail of the weather weenie world). This heavy snow continues all the way until 10-11 AM. (This is the meat and potatoes of this storm 10 PM Friday to 10 AM Saturday) Things start winding down by Saturday afternoon with just snow showers by Saturday night.
Precipitation type: Non-issue. Rare for a big Nor'easter but the center of this low, and the associated warm air, will be so far away to the southeast that we won't have to deal with a rain/snow line at all. The only thing to watch is heavier, wetter types of snow along the coastline versus fluffier snow inland with colder temperatures.
Amounts: Of course there's a map but I wanted to point out a few things. As I said before, I'm on the low side for snowfall totals but I feel OK about that. Some of the computer models seem to be suffering from some sort of temperature profile contamination. Let me explain: The NAM model spit out 43" of snow for Portland this morning and 71" for Fryeburg. At first I thought "Ok the NAM has done lost it's mind!" Butttt then I looked at the amount of liquid it was giving Portland..it was only 1.8". Ok so you figure a standard 10 to 1 ratio of liquid to snow in inches yields 18" of snow. THAT makes sense, 43" does not. So the only thing I could figure is that the ratio of liquid to snow must be getting pumped up to ridiculous levels by temperature errors in the atmosphere. The model THINKS it's super cold somewhere and is therefore giving us epic 30:1 snowfall ratios. Not gonna happen. So the bottom line is I see the potential for isolated 24"+ amounts over southern Maine but I don't believe they will be widespread enough to make that my forecast range.
Wind: Because this storm will be strengthening rapidly to our southeast, we will get into a pretty strong northeast to east fetch Friday night. It looks like wind gusts will push into the 40 MPH range by 8-9 PM on Friday night and ramp up to near 60 MPH by early Saturday morning. Those 60 MPH gusts are right at the threshold for some pretty widespread power outages so I think we will have some problems by mid-morning Saturday. It remains breezy through Saturday afternoon but not as damaging with gusts more like 40 MPH. For the simple reason that water doesn't slow winds down as much as land, I think the strongest wind gusts will indeed be along the coastline of southern and Midcoastal Maine.
Flooding: There will be some minor coastal flooding up and down the coastline just due to those strong winds pushing the water onshore. The time of greatest concern will be around 10-11 AM on Saturday as we reach an astronomically high tide and combine it with east winds up to 55 MPH.
We turn sunny and breezy on Sunday with our next storm looking like a mixture of snow and light rain on Monday.
After that we get into the mid 40s for Tuesday...which should melt some of this snow.
Ok, well that's all you could EVER need to know about this storm. I can't wait for Portland to get buried in 57" of snow, forcing me to apologize to Cantore in person...
Twitter: I'll be nerding it hard for a few days. @KeithCarsonWCSH