A Blizzard Watch has been issued for the counties in green from Monday afternoon through Wednesday morning. All other counties (in blue) are under a Winter Storm Watch. We don’t see blizzard watches issued that often, so now is a good time to review what that means and some general questions that always come up about big snowstorms. Blizzard conditions are when the visibility is reduced by falling and/or blowing snow to 1/4 mile or less and winds are sustained at, or frequently gusting to at least 35 miles per hour. Both of these conditions though, have to persist for at least 3 consecutive hours for it to be a blizzard. Notice that according to the definition, you can have a blizzard with zero new snow accumulation (a “ground blizzard” due to blowing snow already on the ground).
As the various model runs continue to indicate snow and wind for us from this storm, as we get closer to the start time (tomorrow), it is becoming increasingly likely that it will happen. Here are some things to know:
There is the threat for a foot or more of snow in many parts of southern New England and the potential even exists for 2 feet or more somewhere in southern New England. In addition to that there will likely be deeper drifts due to strong wind.
Could the storm go out to sea/miss us? Yes, that is always possible, although a complete miss is becoming unlikely at this point. These storms usually have one or more bands of especially heavy snow that develops (mesoscale bands). This is where the greatest snow amounts will fall, but it can be difficult/impossible to place these band(s) ahead of time.
Any forecast you hear becomes invalid within 6-12 hours. Weather forecasts are not static. They change constantly, as does the atmosphere. Major model runs come in every 6-12 hours, and new short-term guidance is generated every hour. What you heard yesterday or even earlier today may no longer be valid. Stay up-to-date.
Historic? Dispelling weather rumors is more difficult than ever in the age of social media. This storm is a good example why. As you know, likes and shares on Facebook are similar to TV ratings. The more you have, the more valuable your platform is. I can understand why some would say that this storm has the potential to be historic or compare it to a past blizzard. That will also generate a lot of likes & shares. It looks like a lot of the ingredients are there. But if this thing blows up a little further to the south & east, then you’ll end up with big storm over the ocean that brushes us, that most people won’t remember. So, while you cannot dismiss this as being a memorable and potentially “historic” storm if it lives up to its potential, it’s really too early to be throwing those kind of descriptors out. I’d be more comfortable talking about its significance after it actually happens, if it does pan out.
The storm that will affect us has not even formed yet. Some of the ingredients are moving east, but the main “storm” wouldn’t start developing until tomorrow. At this point, expect some snow around by Monday afternoon, with the threat for heavy snow & wind Monday night into Tuesday. Lighter snow may linger into Tuesday night and even part of Wednesday according to some of the models.