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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Spring Snow, A Good Bet!

The final days of winter have felt more like spring. But the first day of spring will feel more like winter. Today we have more confidence in telling you to mentally prepare for snow Sunday afternoon into early Monday morning. Accumulating or plowable snow is a good bet at this point accompanied by strong gusty winds. A big snow storm is also within the realm of possibilities.

So now for the million dollar question…how much snow? If the storm tracks over/near a sweet spot south of Nantucket (AKA the benchmark) we'll get a big snowstorm. If the storm comes too close to the coast, we could change over to heavy sleet and/or rain! That would cut into snowfall totals but still produce a mess. Right now the least likely scenario is the storm missing and heading out to sea.
When will we know more?

One piece of energy that will play a major role in this storm’s development is still in Canada and has a long distance to travel. What that disturbance does over the next 24-48 hours will be vital to nailing down a forecast.

What trends are we noticing today?

Over the last 24 hours the trend has been to bring the track of the storm farther west. This is the reason we are saying an out to sea solution is least likely. All of our computer models are calling for snow to varying degrees. The question is…has that western trend stopped or will it continue? Too far west and we’ll pull in some warmer air with a changeover to sleet/rain (as the Canadian model is currently showing). Also on the topic of trends, the European computer model has remained fairly consistent in showing a bit hit for us here in New England (and all snow). In the past when the Euro does that, it’s usually onto something.

Spring forecasting challenges

Forecasting late winter/early spring storms comes with a unique set of challenges.  The ground is warmer.  There’s also a higher sun angle at this time of year. These factors can sometimes limit how much snow sticks to the ground (especially paved surfaces) during the daytime. However, all bets are off if it snows heavily enough. Also, once the sun sets, it’s game on.

Another challenge this time of year is the lack of truly arctic air. That can lower snow-to-liquid ratios (think heavier wetter snow instead of the fluffy dry stuff). Hey, at least we don’t have leaves on the trees yet!

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