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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Snow?! So you're sayin' there's a chance! FINALLY!

All of the models show a beast of a no'reaster. But where it
tracks and the speed is more uncertain. (Image by WxBell)
On Saturday we have the first real chance for significant snow this winter! A brewing nor’easter will bring the threat for a high impact storm from Washington DC all the way through New England. 

As of right now a plowable snow is becoming more likely. We also have decent confidence that this storm will produce the most snow of the season to date (which is easy because we haven’t seen much). But whether you’re rooting for an epic storm or hoping for a miss, there is too much uncertainty to get excited or nervous about this storm yet.

While there’s still a lot we don’t know, it’s actually REALLY impressive that all of our computer models agree 1) an impressive beast of a nor’easter will develop AND 2) said nor’easter will threaten the East coast.  When that happens, our forecast confidence grows.  But the storm’s ultimate track and speed is still a question mark. How much the low deepens and where it travels will be vital clues in determining the impact here in Connecticut.  While a big snow storm is still on the table for us, there’s still a good chance the heaviest snow misses to our south. (See BULLSEYE)

TIMING: All week looks dry, right up through Friday. Right now the most likely start time of this storm would be late Friday/predawn Saturday morning. The storm could last all the way into early Sunday morning.

The probability of over 1" of precipitation. Check out
that bullseye over the Mid-Atlantic.  (Image by WxBell)
BULLSEYE: If I had to guess who would get the worst of this upcoming storm, it appears the Mid-Atlantic area from Virginia/West Virginia to Washington DC will be under the gun for some of the heaviest snows.  That’s where the storm will rapidly drop in pressure or ”bomb” out.

WHERE IS IT NOW: The storm we’re watching is still out in the Pacific Ocean, moving from Alaska towards the Pacific northwest. It’s important to note, computer models work by taking a combination of weather observations and satellite data to get a picture of what’s going on in the atmosphere. But observations from buoys are more sparse than weather stations on land.  While computer models will attempt to fill in the gaps, it’s not always perfect.  We call this poor sampling.  And my teacher in Meteo 201 used to say “garbage in, garbage out”.  If the data used to feed computer models is wrong (or unavailable) the resulting forecast will be wrong. Errors amplify with time. This is one of the reasons why we send airplanes into hurricanes to gather data.   Until this storm moves over land (and that will not happen until Friday) the forecast is less reliable.

A variety of different solutions even when looking at
the same computer model. Bottom line, the impact in CT is not
set in stone yet.  (Image by WxBell)

It’s 2:20 AM Tuesday. I can’t think anymore. Hope this was interesting/helpful to you!

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