New England, Canada Blizzard to Stir Hurricane-Force Winds

By , Senior Meteorologist
March 26, 2014; 5:01 AM ET
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Play video An expert analysis on the impending blizzard is given in the above AccuWeather.com video.

As the snowstorm is unfolding across the Northeast, with blizzard conditions expected to develop across eastern New England and slam Atlantic Canada Tuesday night through Wednesday night.

The rest of the East Coast will escape the worst of the storm, but there is still nuisance to disruptive snowfall in store for portions of the Appalachians, the mid-Atlantic and interior New England.

The blizzard could slow travel, close schools and cause significant disruptions to daily routines.

The projected path of the storm puts Cape Cod, Mass., and Down East Maine at greatest risk for fierce blizzard conditions in the United States.

Those in Providence, R.I., Boston, Portsmouth, N.H., and Portland, Maine, are among the residents in eastern New England who can expect wind-swept snow with a chance of blizzard conditions developing if the storm track shifts a bit farther to the west than currently forecast.

A much-less-intense storm occured in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City and Hartford, Conn., where snowfall ranged from a few flurries to a few inches.

A snowstorm for the mid-Atlantic during late March is not unusual. In fact, on March, 25, 2013, a storm dropped 1.4 inches of snow in Washington, D.C., and 1.1 inches of snow in Philadelphia.

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One to three inches of snow are forecast for eastern Long Island. Snowfall totals across the Cape of Massachusetts and Down East Maine will be on the order of 6 to 12 inches with a potential for some communities to top a foot.

Strong winds in the heart of the blizzard will severely blow and drift the snow around, making driving extremely dangerous, if not impossible, and possibly overwhelming road crews. Motorists driving during the height of the storm run the risk of becoming stranded.

Gusty winds along the coast will result in AccuWeather RealFeel® temperatures 10 to 20 F lower than the actual temperature.

Winds could be strong enough on Cape Cod, Down East Maine, the Maritimes, Newfoundland and Labrador to down trees and cause power outages. Gusts could reach hurricane strength in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, as well as in portions of New Brunswick and Newfoundland.

According to Canada Weather Expert Brett Anderson, "In the Maritimes and western Newfoundland, the storm has the potential to produce snow drifts three times the depth of the average snowfall, close roads and shut down daily activities for a couple of days."

Canada cities in the direct path of the blizzard include Halifax, Nova Scotia; Moncton, New Brunswick, and Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

The winds will cause very rough conditions across the northwestern Atlantic Ocean. Seas in open waters from Massachusetts to Newfoundland may reach 40 feet.

"While some folks in Canada are comparing this storm to a nor'easter, known as 'White Juan' from 10 years ago, this storm will be more intense, but is moving faster," Anderson said. "From this storm Wednesday, storm total snow will not be as heavy, but winds will be stronger than the February 2004 storm."

Coastal flooding is possible in Massachusetts, where coastal areas have an exposure to northerly winds. Water levels in this area may rise to a couple of feet above published tide levels.

The blizzard will not develop fast enough to severely impact the rest of the East Coast. However, light snow is forecast to fall along the I-95 corridor in New England and the northern mid-Atlantic. Enough snow can fall to lower the visibility and cover road surfaces for a time.

Most of the snow that falls during the midday and afternoon hours on Tuesday will have a hard time sticking to roads.

"Where the snow falls at night and first thing in the morning, the odds are greater for an accumulation on roads. However, the warming effect of the March sun during the midday and afternoon could be negated by a very heavy snowfall rate," stated AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

Such heavy snowfall is expected to occur on an isolated basis until the evening and overnight hours of Tuesday when the storm begins to rapidly strengthen.

Snow was sticking to roads early Tuesday morning in portions of the I-77 corridor in northwestern North Carolina and southwestern Virginia and I-81, I-95 and I-64 in Virginia.

Paving the way for the return of snow to the East Coast is the latest blast of arctic cold.

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