Strong nor'easter may bring heaviest snow of winter to part of Northeast
The storm could intensify into a bomb cyclone rapidly, AccuWeather forecasters say, and it will threaten to bring significant coastal flooding and damaging winds in addition to heavy snow to the interior Northeast.
AccuWeather forecasters warn a major winter storm will bring the heaviest snow of the season, coastal flooding and damaging winds to the Northeast early this week.
A major storm is brewing for the northeastern United States, and it could deliver a foot or more of snow in some locations, AccuWeather meteorologists warn. Meanwhile, areas near the coast can expect high winds, coastal flooding and heavy rain as the weekend draws to a close and the new week begins.
A storm will form over the northeastern Gulf of Mexico on Sunday night and track northeastward along the Atlantic coast early this week. The combination of a large, southward jet stream plunge, a marked temperature contrast near the U.S. East Coast and warm Atlantic waters will allow the storm to strengthen quickly.
The storm has the potential to strengthen so fast from Monday to Tuesday that it could undergo what forecasters call "bombogenesis" or become a "bomb cyclone." This is a term assigned to a storm that experiences a pressure drop of 0.71 of an inch of mercury (24 mb) in 24 hours or less. When the pressure drop occurs in the center of the storm, it creates a giant vacuum effect. Air then rushes in toward the center in the form of powerful winds, sometimes similar to how a hurricane develops.
"The exact track of the storm will determine exactly where the boundary between rain and snow sets up in the Northeast," AccuWeather Chief On-Air Meteorologist Bernie Rayno said. "Right now, it looks like Boston will be near that rain/snow edge and New York City will be just along the border of the snow zone. Meanwhile, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., will be solidly into the rain zone."
This will turn out to be a major snowstorm in parts of northeastern Pennsylvania and eastern upstate New York to western and northern New England. A general 6-12 inches of snow is forecast in the higher terrain such as the Poconos, Catskills, Adirondacks, Berkshires, Green and White mountains, with 12-18 inches of snow expected across the highest terrain of these ranges. An AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 36 inches is achievable with this storm, especially in northern New England and the mountains of northeastern New York.
"Because of the combination of strong winds and heavy snow that will greatly reduce the visibility, this storm will have the potential to bring blizzard conditions to portions of New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts," AccuWeather Meteorologist Alex DaSilva said. In order for a blizzard to be officially declared, there must be blowing and/or falling snow with winds of at least 35 mph and reduced visibility of a quarter-mile or less for at least three consecutive hours.
Winds may become strong enough to cause power outages in portions of New England and the upper Mid-Atlantic, according to DaSilva, who noted that the worst conditions may be where the weight of wet snow and strong winds causes tree branches to shift or break.
Near the coast, winds may frequently gust between 40 and 60 mph and could reach hurricane-force strength of 74 mph or greater in some instances from Monday night to Wednesday. This could result in blowing snow, and downed trees and powerlines. In the strongest gusts, winds could reach the AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 80 mph.
"Even though the astronomical cycle of the moon will not produce the highest tides, this storm will still have the potential to cause significant coastal flooding, especially across eastern New England, where strong winds will blow onshore the longest," DaSilva said.
Due to the storm, tides have the potential to run 2-3 feet above the historical average for the date, with significant overwash in coastal areas as each wave rolls ashore, especially during normal times of the high tide from Monday night to Tuesday. Tides of 1-2 feet above normal are likely from Virginia to New Jersey and New York on Monday.
The storm’s timing from Sunday night to Monday could mean trouble for travelers returning home from weekend or spring break trips. For those who reside in the interior Northeast, where the heaviest snow is expected, Monday could end up being a work-from-home day for those who are able to or a remote-learning day for students.
As snow spreads over the central Appalachians on Sunday night, rain will move northward along the mid-Atlantic coast from Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia and New York City. AccuWeather meteorologists believe a wintry mix of snow, sleet and rain could occur in some of the northern and western suburbs of these cities.
Around Boston, a wintry mix may struggle to get underway on Monday for a time. As the storm strengthens on Monday night, winds will ramp up, and areas of rain and snow will increase in intensity with a substantial number of airline flight delays and cancellations likely.
The combination of rain and wind can lead to a number of airline delays and possible flight cancellations from New York City to Washington, D.C., from Sunday night to Monday night. Slow travel on the roads is likely on the Interstate 95 corridor of the mid-Atlantic due to the rain and poor visibility. Farther north and west, snow or a wintry mix will lead to deteriorating road conditions.
Snow could potentially work its way into part of the New York City metro area Monday night as the storm begins to shift more to the northeast, experts say.
Conditions will improve over much of the mid-Atlantic by Tuesday, but blustery and cold conditions will persist. However, snow showers will linger over the central Appalachians, and bands of lake-effect snow can bring locally heavy accumulations from parts of West Virginia to western Pennsylvania and western New York. AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures will be in the teens and 20s F on Tuesday.
The storm will pound New England for much of Tuesday with areas of snow and windy conditions over the central and eastern areas and a possible change to snow toward Cape Cod, Massachusetts. It may take until Tuesday night until snow departs Maine, but cold, gusty winds will persist in New England into the middle of the week.
The same storm will funnel much colder air southward through the Tennessee Valley and the Southeast states from Tuesday to Wednesday. Freezing conditions in some areas may cause damage to blossoms and flowers Monday night and Tuesday night.
Nor'easter unlikely to snap I-95 snow drought
Despite the storm's intensity, little to no snow will fall along the mid-Atlantic portion of the I-95 corridor. This means that nothing will be added to the few tenths of an inch of snow that has been measured this winter in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.
New York City has not fared much better, with only 2.3 inches to show for the season so far, compared to a historical average through March 9 of 26.6 inches. Even though Boston has received nearly a foot of snow this season through March 9, the historical average to date is about 42 inches.
With the potential for 1-2 feet of snow to fall from the looming nor'easter, this may end up being the most substantial storm of the winter for portions of the interior Northeast. Some areas from northeastern Pennsylvania to Maine could double their seasonal snowfall with this storm.
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