What a difference a few days make. As I mentioned in my two-week outlook at the beginning of the month, there was the potential for a storm during the first weekend of 2017. At the time, it looked like the odds would bring it out to sea, but here we are. Connecticut is set to face its first truly widespread and significant snowstorm of the season.
A combination of things has brought us to this point. First, we’ve seen a significant northwestward shift of the low bringing us precipitation. This has an obvious impact by bringing the precipitation shield closer. Second, the system has proven to be a bit deeper, or stronger. That set-in motion the northwestward shift (among other things) and better precipitation shield. Third, the mid-levels look great. We have the ingredients in place for good lift and snow growth, and that maximizes the precipitation that can fall.
So that’s where we are. The National Weather Service has taken note:
- A moderate to major winter storm is expected to impact the state, beginning later this morning through the evening.
- Very slight changes will mean big differences in snowfall accumulations, and the amount of banding in a given location is important.
- Snow should be of a light and fluffy consistency, have a higher than usual ratios, and will stick quickly with cold enough temperatures throughout the state. Mixing is not an issue here.
- Confidence in a major event is highest in southeast Connecticut, but confidence in the potential of a warning level event for central and southern Connecticut has increased considerably with recent guidance and observation trends.
The heaviest snow will fall during the afternoon and be accompanied by strong winds which will reduce visibility and make driving hazardous, especially in southeast Connecticut.
The guidance took a while, but we have a consensus on a significant snow event across much of the state. At this point, we’ve moved from most of the models and are closely analyzing observations to our south and overhead. QPF is less of a concern here too as we need to closely analyze the column above and overall mid/upper level setup to predict the best locations for banding. Interestingly, after a very well defined trend towards a more impactful event, the guidance has split a bit. The most recent guidance factors a bit less in my forecast, but it’s something I’ll be watching closely.
As SA mentioned yesterday, we will be closely monitoring for the possibility of a strong frontogenesis band well to the NW of the low and the main core of precipitation. Snow should begin to push into the state from south to north. With the most recent guidance, I’m thinking mid-morning for most (though I am seeing reports of flurries already) for the southern part of the state and as late as early afternoon in far northern Connecticut. Snow will begin light, but will become moderate to heavy at times from mid-afternoon into the evening hours. It looks like snow will end during the early morning hours of Sunday.
This is a plowable event across Connecticut, with less confidence in far northwest Connecticut where we watch how far north the cutoff gets. The combination of cold temperatures, wind, and snow will make travel difficult this afternoon through the evening, especially east of I-91. Blowing and drifting is possible, especially near the shoreline where wind gusts will be stronger. We still do not expect widespread power outages.
I’ll be providing periodic updates over the course of the day if necessary. Please share your photos and observations on Facebook and Twitter @SouthernCTWX.
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As SA said yesterday, enjoy the storm! (if you’re into that kind of thing)