Jesse Ferrell

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6 Feet of Snow? Just How Big Could Blizzard of 2013 Be?

February 06, 2013; 2:36 PM

UPDATE 2/7/2013: The new plume forecast for Boston has them at a mean of 31" (note that is bigger than their record 27.5") with a max of 50 inches of snow -- and unlike yesterday, more models are now projecting above the mean than below!

We are only going for 20 inches of snow in Boston (we are typically conservative in our official forecasts, especially a couple of days out). You can see our forecast from Premium below -- this may be one of the most dire predictions I've seen us make for a winter storm in the East, especially when you combine the various weather watches, blowing snow and a 43-mph wind gust. It's going to be ugly. Our new news story quotes "white-out conditions, massive drifts, power outages, people stranded, winds to hurricane-force, and thunder and lightning with the snow."


The first thing I heard when I walked into work this morning was, "We're going blizzard." The forecast models had come into agreement overnight that a massive snowstorm would pound New England on Friday. When I posted an ensemble model map this morning showing up to 53 inches of snow in Nashua, N.H., I couldn't imagine that the computer predictions could get any more insane... but they did.

The NMM model's 12Z run showed an incredible amount of snow, up to 77 inches as pointed out by Ryan Hanrahan on Twitter. Meteorologist Tim Buckley also posted this map showing amounts over 5 feet -- literally off the chart. As of this writing, the SREF has a max of around 56 inches southwest of Portland, Maine:

Could the maximum model predictions be right? Probably not, but models do have a knack of agreeing when a storm of historic proportions is forecast (when we saw one computer model's predictions for the Blizzard of 1993 -- I was a meteorology student then -- we dismissed them as an error until we saw the other model agree). The mean of the ensemble member runs in the graph is "only" 23 inches, and there are twice as many members predicting less than the mean, versus more, meaning me think that it will go towards the lower end of the amounts.

Still, it has the attention of AccuWeather legend Joe Lundberg, who personally experienced the Blizzard of 1978, which dropped over 30 inches of snow in a similar area of New England:

Historically speaking, over 3 feet of snow from one storm is not that unusual, especially over ski areas in the Northeast. The Storm of the Century dropped 50 inches in North Carolina and 43 in New York state. Reaching the 50-inch mark again is not out of the question and (personally speaking) I think that top amounts under 2 feet are unlikely at this point -- storms like this typically over-perform in localized areas. The Blizzard of 1888 was the storm-total snowfall record-setter in most Northeast states, dropping 50 inches in Connecticut and 55 in eastern New York state (ref. this book, page 92). Even higher totals, up to 76 inches from one storm, occurred in the late 1960s near Mount Washington, N.H., blog reader Aaron P. pointed out.

Terry Eliasen, WBZ-TV weather producer, says that the storm could be historic for Boston... but their record is only 27 inches during the Blizzard of 1978 (other coastal cities nearby have similar records), and they haven't even had more than a foot of snow in two years.

Of course, models rarely increase their snow totals as you get closer than this to a storm, and it's always possible that the storm could miss entirely... but we're running out of time.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or


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About This Blog

Jesse Ferrell
Jesse Ferrell's WeatherMatrix blog covers extreme weather worldwide with a concentration on weather photos and Social Media.