By James M. Arnold, Weather Specialist
Region – We have three threats for snow in our near term future.
1. There is a weak system approaching that is responsible for our increasing clouds today. It will spread some very light snow across southernmost New England late today and tonight, and will likely be limited to flurries at most for the Shrewsbury area during the overnight hours. The southern half of Connecticut, Rhode Island, and the Cape and Islands may get up to 2 inches as this disturbance passes out to sea well to our south.
2. A storm that is beginning to take shape in the 4 corners region of the southwest U.S. will begin to spread widespread snow over the western half of Texas today and tonight. This storm will travel east northeast toward the South Carolina coast where it will move offshore and turn towards the northeast and begin to intensify once off Cape Hatteras, which should be sometime late on Friday. An additional package of energy swinging across from the Great Lakes looks like it will phase with the storm which will help it intensify rapidly as it continues to move off toward the northeast. The exact track cannot be determined as yet since this is 4 days away, but all indications are that this could become the first general east coast snowstorm of the winter.
What this means for the Shrewsbury area is that clouds will begin increase Saturday morning and during the afternoon the overcast will thicken and lower. Light snow should arrive around nightfall and become moderate to heavy at times Saturday night and continue into Sunday. This storm has the potential to deliver 6 to 10 inches of snow to our area and there could be some reports of 12 inches or more in isolated areas. There will not be much wind here in inland areas, but wind could become an issue along the coastal plain, the Cape and Islands. In those locations wind will likely be in the 20 to 30 mph range with some gusts approaching 50 mph. These locations could also see some rain mix with the snow which would yield a wet and sticky snow that would threaten to bring some tree limbs down with the risk of isolated power outages. I see no such risks in our area as we should see all snow and will have less wind to contend with, although it will be breezy enough to cause blowing and drifting of the snow. Temperatures will hold pretty steady throughout the storm, mostly in the high 20s in Central Massachusetts. The storm will pull away later Sunday leaving us with windy and cold conditions. Temperatures both Sunday and Monday nights will be in the low teens and daytime highs will be in the low 30s. Winds will be brisk from the northwest.
3. There is the threat of yet another storm developing off the Carolina coast about Monday which has the potential to bring another sizeable snowfall to our area. Being almost a week out it is too early to speculate on the details of this event, but it certainly bears careful watching. In the wake of this storm, the floodgates will open and we will likely be engulfed in a surge of true arctic air pushed by strong northwest winds. Windchill values will likely become dangerously cold in this airmass, as was the case earlier this month, especially if we have a deep snow cover to enhance the low temperatures in our future.
I will update both major storm threats as well as the progress of the arctic air tomorrow.
James M. Arnold is a Weather Specialist working with Shrewsbury Emergency Management Agency; town of Princeton; Worcester Emergency Communications and Emergency Management Agency; Southborough Emergency Management Agency; town of Grafton and Wachusett Mou