After a bit of a reprieve from winter, it’s coming back. At least for a day. In the last day or so, we’ve been watching the potential for an area of low pressure to develop and ride toward our region, bringing the potential for precipitation. As we’ve gotten closer toward the period of interest, our confidence has increased in the potential of a moderate winter storm impacting our area this weekend. We are still a little more than two days out from showtime, so this is a forecast that is worth watching closely in case things trend one way or the other—as they have in a number of systems we’ve seen this season.
We’ve been missing well timed cold for much of the last month, resulting in a series of rain events where we have plenty of precip but no cold. Now, we’re in a setup where a high pressure to our north will be in place to deliver cold enough air for most. However, this high pressure will be scooting to the east and away from us as an area of low pressure develops off the Mid-Atlantic coast on Saturday. As a result, there are questions that remain about the overall track of the storm, and how much warmth is able to get punched into the column as precipitation is falling.
Currently, much of the guidance suggests that we see an area of low pressure that is just right, both in strength and track. Too strong and we could see mixing in southern Connecticut that cuts down on snowfall. Too weak and we see a much less impressive system, even if it is all snow for everyone. We take the middle ground here expecting an Advisory to Warning level event bringing 3-6 inches of snow across the state.
Beware, southern folks. We’ve danced this dance before. Should we see the stronger solutions verify, you're in line for a 6"+ event, but if it gets too strong, we could see rain mix in, and if it's too weak, only an inch or two of snow will be the end result. It's a fine line - stay tuned...
Here's our snowmap for this event.
The overall timing seems to be coming into better agreement. Our aforementioned low pressure develops off the Mid-Atlantic coast on Saturday and begins making a run northeast. With high pressure still in place, we expect much of Saturday to be ok. Right now, if you have plans during the day, they look fine. By the evening hours however, you should expect some light snow to begin breaking out from southwest CT to northeast areas over the evening and overnight hours. This far out, timing can change by a few hours in either direction, even with models in solid agreement, so keep an eye out for that.
We expect snow to fall from Saturday evening through the early morning hours of Sunday. This is a fast mover. In fact, we expect the bulk of accumulating snow to fall in a relative short period of a few hours.
As our map above shows, we’re starting out by going with 3-6 inches of snow, with more likely in central Connecticut and less near the shoreline. This accounts for the potential of mixing, which is possible if there is a last minute shift of the storm track north. If we get a track that is closer to the benchmark (70/40) or just south, we will likely see virtually the entire state stay snow and that will increase totals, especially near the shore. On the contrary, a more suppressed solution like the GFS, shown below, will result in just a couple of inches of snow at the maximum.
Overall, we think this has the potential to be a moderate event. We lean toward a moderate event at this point for a few reasons. First, although this will be a fast moving low, it looks like there will be very good dynamics with this system. Like our last few rain storms, there will be a significant amount of moisture available. That increases the potential of significant snowfall if the column cooperates. In addition, some of the soundings and other factors we look at on the guidance show good snow growth, which would maximize snowfall potential.
With those factors at play, we expect a period of moderate to heavy snow that will make roads difficult to pass during the overnight hours. In addition, with the rain/snow line likely to be close to the shoreline, we should see heavier and wetter snow especially along the shore, which could cause problems of its own. We’ll see these factors come in greater focus the closer we get.
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-SA & DB