Travel-Snarling, Power-Cutting Snowstorm Headed for Northeast

October 27, 2011; 12:00 PM ET
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The area highlighted in white shows the zone with the greatest potential for downed trees and power outages Saturday into Saturday evening.

This story has been updated: LATEST STORM INFORMATION

Another storm coming Saturday to the Northeast bringing drenching rain also threatens a heavily populated part of the region with downed trees, power outages, and travel delays from heavy, wet snow.

Fresh cold air will invade the Northeast through Friday, paving the way for major problems in the Northeast as the second and stronger storm in three days comes calling this weekend.

If the storm develops to its full potential, thousands of trees could come down, and over a million people could be without power.

The amount of rain versus snow that falls on communities in the I-95 corridor from Washington, D.C. to New York and Boston Saturday will be a matter of a few degrees.

The Saturday storm will bring a change to wet snow in many more places, compared to the Thursday storm.

According to Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams, "The amount of rain versus snow that falls on various communities in the I-95 corridor from Washington, D.C. to New York and Boston Saturday will be a matter of a few degrees."


This map shows the expected accumulation on grassy surfaces. The heaviest accumulation is likely from east-central Pennsylvania to south-central New England, where the snow will come down the hardest late in the day and during the evening Saturday.

Elevation, proximity to the warm Atlantic Ocean, and intensity of the precipitation will also be key players.

The bulk of the storm just north and west of I-95 will be wet snow, but even in cities from Washington, D.C. and Baltimore to Wilmington, Del., Philadelphia, Trenton, N.J., New York City, Providence, R.I. and Boston, rain will become mixed with or change over completely to wet snow.

In parts of New England, wind will also become an issue with the strengthening storm, and a plastering of snow with low visibility can occur.

In southeastern Virginia, the lower Delmarva, southeastern New Jersey, and on much of Long Island and Cape Cod, the rain could end as or mix with wet snow briefly.

Rain, snow and fog will slow highway travel and could force flight delays and cancellations.

As the storm moves closer and strengthens, rain will fall at a heavier pace. As this happens, the temperature will lower to the point that allows rain to become mixed with or change to snow in some locations.

According to Expert Senior Meteorologist John Gresiak, "The higher up you are, and farther away from the coast within the I-95 zone, the better the chance of not only wet snowflakes mixing in, but also a heavy accumulation of wet snow."

Cities along the I-78, I-81 and I-84 are at risk for the same heavy, wet snow as are those of the northern and western suburbs in the I-95 zone. This includes Hartford, Conn., Frederick, Md., Worcester, Mass., Nashua, N.H., Netcong, N.J., Newburgh, N.Y., Allentown, Pa. and Winchester, Va.

Areas even farther west of that from Gettysburg, Pa., to Binghamton, N.Y., could also see very heavy snow.

This zone also stands the best chance of slippery, snow-covered roads developing, as will be the swath where snow will likely come down fast and furious for several hours.

A few miles distance and a few hundred feet in elevation could mean the difference between slushy roads, several inches of snow only on trees and grassy areas, or just wet conditions.

Snow this heavy this early is highly unusual along and near I-95 in the Northeast. In Philadelphia, the average date for the first accumulating snow is December 18.

However, snow has accumulated this early in some of the I-95 cities. Unofficially, in 1859, 4 inches of snow fell on New York City, and 3 inches fell on Newark, N.J.

Meteorologist Bill Deger has a look at official records that could be shattered by this storm.

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