By James Arnold, Weather Specialist
As the Christmas weekend approaches so does a double dose of bad weather, with implications for all travel plans, particularly in areas away from the coast. By late tomorrow morning or early afternoon we should be seeing occasional light snow which will continue into Friday night, before beginning to change to freezing rain and sleet then rain along the coast then progressing to inland locations during the overnight hours. Inland areas west of the Route 495 corridor and north of the Mass Pike will experience a fairly significant ice accumulation which could bring tree branches down. This will be most significant near the Route 2 corridor, where scattered power outages are possible. Travel will become hazardous until temperatures rise above freezing in most places, ending the ice accretion. I am looking for accumulations of 1 to 3 inches of snow and ice in and around the Shrewsbury area before the change to rain. Rain should come to an end during the afternoon. The National Weather Service has issued a briefing regarding this situation, and here is a LINK to that briefing.
This is not the end of the story. Saturday night and most of the daylight hours of Sunday should be precipitation free, but becoming colder. Snow should move in early Sunday night and continue through the night and into at least the morning of Christmas day. This storm has not formed yet and as such there is no sampling data available, so it is hard to get a solid handle on where it’s location when it emerges out over the water in the mid Atlantic region, what the track will be and how intense this system will become as it approaches southern New England. Right now it appears that coastal regions will see mostly rain over the Cape and Islands but a rain to snow scenario is not out of the question. Inland areas will likely see all snow. Right now, my best guess is for a fairly significant accumulation, perhaps in the range of 4 to 8 inches, but until the above questions are answered this should be considered a preliminary estimate.
Once again, please monitor the latest forecasts on the radio, TV, the internet and on your NOAA weather radio. I will have an update on the Sunday night/Christmas Day storm as more information becomes available.
James M. Arnold is a retired Weather Specialist who has worked with Shrewsbury Emergency Management Agency; town of Princeton; Worcester Emergency Communications and Emergency Management Agency; Southborough Emergency Management Agency; town of Grafton and Wachusett Mountain Ski Area