Update at 4:15 p.m.: The National Weather Service has transitioned the blizzard watch into a warning for coastal New England, from Nantucket to northern Maine. Cape Cod, Boston, Portland, Maine, and Bangor, Maine, are now all under a blizzard warning for the dangerous weekend storm.
New England is bracing for a dangerous blizzard this weekend. Another one to two feet of snow could fall across the already-buried region through Monday morning, and damaging wind gusts and power outages are an ominous prospect as temperatures behind the storm will sink well below zero.
Models are forecasting the weekend blizzard to be a meteorological bomb, rapidly intensifying off the coast and dropping over 30 millibars in 24 hours between Saturday and Sunday evening. On Sunday afternoon, the storm’s pressure could push below 970 mb — an intensity typical of a category 2 hurricane.
Moderate, seemingly tranquil snow will begin across New England on Saturday afternoon and last through the evening. By midnight the storm will really start to crank up as it interacts with the warm energy of the coastal Atlantic and intensifies significantly. Come Sunday morning, the storm will be in full, raging blizzard mode across coastal New England.
Storm total snowfalls between eight and 14 inches are in the forecast across eastern Massachusetts, southeast New Hampshire, and southern Maine. In a worst-case snow scenario, Boston could see 15 to 20 inches, but Maine is positioned to be the hardest hit by this storm. The Weather Service’s “most likely” snowfall forecast for Portland was 10 to 14 inches, but increased to 18 to 24 inches northeast of that, which includes Bangor.
Despite the attention on Boston’s record-breaking snow so far this season, the blizzard’s snow accumulation is one of the least concerning impacts.
Sunday afternoon will bring damaging winds, and potentially widespread power outages, to the New England coast from Cape Cod to Maine. As the storm’s minimum pressure bombs in the Gulf of Maine, hurricane-force winds will be howling just off shore. The European model is forecasting sustained winds of 60 mph on Cape Cod, with gusts up to 90 mph. On Sunday afternoon, the model is forecasting wind gusts to peak over 100 mph just south of the coast of Maine.
The combination of snow and wind will lead to dangerous whiteout conditions. A blizzard watch has been issued for coastal New England from Nantucket to northeast Maine, including Boston. A blizzard watch is issued when driving snow and winds are expected to reduce visibility to less than a quarter of a mile for more than three hours.
Blowing and drifting snow are a given this weekend, and snowdrifts could pile up over 10 feet on the sides of buildings.
If you are caught unprepared outside in the New England blizzard you could die it's that serious of a storm!
— Henry Margusity (@HenryMargusity) February 13, 2015
Farther inland, a winter storm watch is in effect for eastern Connecticut and Rhode Island and the rest of eastern Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine that is not already under a blizzard watch.
Damaging winds and the potential for widespread power outages are doubly concerning given the surge of cold air that is expected behind this storm. Monday morning lows could plummet to less than minus 20 degrees in the Adirondacks of upstate New York.
In southeast New England, low temperatures will push below zero on Monday and Tuesday morning. Monday high temperatures may not climb past 10 degrees — according to the National Weather Service in Boston, this hasn’t happened in the region since the Arctic outbreak in January 2004.
The weekend storm will undoubtedly make this month the snowiest month on record in Boston. The previous snowiest month was January of 2005, when 43.3 inches of snow fell. Just 13 days into February, Boston has already seen 42.3 inches. Boston’s seasonal snowfall total thus far is an incredible 79.5 inches, about 50 inches more than the city usually sees by this point in winter.