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Our upcoming snowstorm continues to look like it’s going to materialize, and although I never like to say anything is a sure thing when it comes to weather, I think it’s highly unlikely we’re going to miss this one. It’s been just under two years since Boston received more than 4 inches of snow in a single storm, and even Logan International Airport should end up with significantly more.
The snow will arrive within a couple of hours of sunrise on Tuesday after a beautiful and mild Monday. Temperatures on Monday will reach well into the 40s and as a bonus there will be plenty of sunshine.
Right now for Tuesday, it looks like we could see at least 8 to 10 inches of snow — possibly up to a foot in spots — in the Boston area and central Massachusetts, northern Rhode Island and Connecticut; 3 to 6 inches in southeastern Massachusetts and southern Rhode Island; and the Cape may see 4 to 8 inches.
There are strong indications that there will be several hours of heavy snow, lowering visibility Tuesday morning and into the first part of the afternoon. Snowfall rates could exceed 1 to 2 inches per hour for a time, making driving very difficult until the intensity lightens up in the evening.
During this time, it will also be somewhat windy: We could see wind gusts of over 35 miles per hour, especially along the coast south of Boston. A high wind warning is in effect Tuesday for the Cape and the Islands, with wind gusts of up to 60 miles per hour expected.
I think it’s likely that many schools are going to be canceled on Tuesday as well, so plan accordingly.
A winter storm warning has been issued for Tuesday for Greater Boston and most of Massachusetts, excluding northwest and southeast portions of the state and the Cape. Northern Rhode Island and Connecticut are also included in the warning. Southern New Hampshire and Vermont are under a winter storm watch Monday night into Tuesday.
If the winds reach 35 miles per hour and visibility is lowered to a quarter mile or less, then that would be considered a blizzard condition — but it also would have to last for three consecutive hours for an official blizzard to be called and this is very unlikely.
The definition of a blizzard has nothing to do with the amount of snow. It’s only a visibility warning due to snow and wind.
Temperatures on Tuesday close to the coast will be above freezing and this could lead to less snow on the roads than on the grassy and other colder surfaces.
The snow will start winding down late Tuesday afternoon and early evening. This will give public works crews plenty of time to clean up, and things should return to mostly normal by Wednesday morning. I do suspect the majority of schools will be closed on Tuesday but should be able to open again Wednesday.
There will be some minor to perhaps moderate coastal flooding at the time of high tide on Tuesday. This would occur around 1 p.m. This is the only tide cycle that will be significantly impacted by the storm. A coastal flood warning has been issued for Boston and the eastern shore of Massachusetts and the Cape. Floodwaters 2 to 3 feet deep could impact low-lying areas.
Power outages are possible, especially where the snow is heavy and wet, closest to the coastline. Further inland, especially west of Interstate 495, the snow will be lighter in texture and power outages are less likely. It will also be less windy in those areas.
Only extreme southern areas of New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine will see a plowable snowstorm, with little to no snow farther north.
On Wednesday, it will be blustery and notably colder. You’ll need your sunglasses with the brilliant sunshine reflecting off the newly fallen snow. Temperatures will reach near 30 degrees. There will be some melting on Thursday as temperatures get a few degrees above freezing, but I don’t see any major warming trend after this system for a while.