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Blizzard moving in

3:14 PM, Feb 8, 2013   |    comments
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My wife comes in to wake me up this morning at 6:30:

"Hey hun, it's snowing".

"Yeah, yeah I know. I'm tired." (close my eyes)

"No..like...it's really snowing. We have about 3" already"

BAM. I'm awake like I just chased 3 Red Bulls with a shot of 5 Hour Energy.

Coastal front for the win: The reason it was snowing MUCH harder than predicted this morning; a coastal front set up. With a small scale boundary between the warmer ocean water and the colder land air mass draining from the north, it attracted and intensified what should have been just light snow from the upper level disturbance to our west. Another huge factor is how crazy the liquid to snowfall ratios were this morning. We were squeezing about 30:1 ratios (meaning for every 1" of liquid we get 30" of snow. The average/normal is 10 to 1), so it is likely some of the lightest snow you've ever shoveled. Or better yet, don't bother to shovel because more is on the way.

So at this point the "real storm" is still down to the east of Baltimore. This coastal "bomb" is strengthening at an amazing rate and slowly pushing to the north-northeast towards us. If you look at the radar right now you can see the coastal front over souther/Midcoast Maine linking up with the main storm bands down across southern New England all while the upper level disturbance over upstate New York is being sucked into the center of the fray. (From a weather weenie point of view it's a thing of beauty. I'm probably going to print it and pin it on my fridge)

In any event, now that the morning surprise is out of the way the rest of the forecast is on track.

Timing: The heaviest precipitation is still slated to push into tonight through early tomorrow morning. Southern Maine coastal Maine will be the first to see the very heavy bands, starting late this afternoon and early this evening and continue through 6-7 AM Saturday morning. Most of interior central Maine and Downeast Maine will wait until 11 PM to see the heavier bands, but they will hold onto them a bit longer on Saturday as well, winding down around 10 AM. Downeast Maine will be the last to clear out with heavy snow likely through noon. After noon most of the state will taper to light snow and snow showers, Downeast will continue to see moderate snow until 3 PM.

Amounts: Clearly we've had to up them a bit over southern and coastal Maine with this 5-6" head start (This is Captain Obvious reporting live from the Weather Center). HOWEVER, it's interesting to note that the global computer models have backed off a bit in terms of the total moisture that the blizzard itself will spin out tonight and early tomorrow morning. The net result? A ton of snow still but the increase in forecast totals may not be as dramatic as you'd expect. I think the Portland area north towards Camden will end up with the jackpot from this storm as the dynamics for heavy snow bands lashing onshore tonight look fantastic. I expect snowfall rates to approach 3" an hour late tonight all along the coastline leading to total whiteouts.

Winds: As this coastal storm bombs out to the east of Cape Cod, MA the wind field will expand and strengthen. Wind gusts up to 60 MPH are likely tonight all along the coastline with winds more like 50 MPH further inland. The peak of the gusts will correspond with the peak of the snowfall rates, so we are talking late tonight/early morning. It will remain windy through the day on Saturday with gusts up to 45 MPH, but the core of the winds is definitely overnight/early morning.

Flooding: Coastal flooding is a real concern over southern coastal Maine and the Midcoast. Unfortunately we have an astronomically high tide at around 10 AM on Saturday and that will correspond with wind speeds up to 50 MPH still. The result will be some moderate flooding at that time and splash over on either side of the tide.

Little known fact: The "blizzard" classification has nothing to do with how much snow falls. The conditions needed to issue a Blizzard Warning are: winds over 35 MPH and visibility reduced to under 1/4 mile due to snow..these conditions need to be met for at least 3 hours in a row for it to be considered a blizzard. Typically you DO end up with big snowfall totals in these conditions, but you could, in theory, have a "Blizzard" with only a few inches of snow.

By Saturday night we are back to partly cloudy conditions and a sunny day looks likely for Sunday.

After that we are in for at least a little warmup for Monday afternoon/Tuesday as a warm front lifts through.

That's all I have on the extended range right now though, it's a little busy up in here.

By the way, thundersnow is still in play (Cue trumpets and the heavens opening up)

Be safe and have fun.

Twitter: @KeithCarsonWCSH

 

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