A simulation of the weekend winter storm, via the NAM weather mode. (Capital Weather Gang and Pivotal Weather)

A powerful winter storm taking shape over the central United States is set to charge into the Northeast this weekend, unleashing disruptive amounts of snow and ice.

Snowfall totals of at least half a foot are expected across almost the entire Northeast, from eastern Ohio to Maine. Accumulations in parts of interior New York and New England may even top two feet.

Just south of the heaviest snow, a treacherous mix of sleet and freezing rain is also set to impact a zone from near Pittsburgh, through the New York City into southern New England. Heavy ice accumulation could cause power failures just as the coldest air of the season comes rushing in behind the storm.


National Weather Service snowfall forecast through Sunday night. (WeatherBell.com)

Let’s take a tour of the forecast across the Northeast United States...

Cleveland: It’s a snowy weekend in the Cleveland area, with increasingly cold and windy conditions as time progresses. Snow begins by sunrise Saturday and lasts through early Sunday. Temperatures starting near 30 Saturday plunge into the teens by Sunday. About four to eight inches are anticipated in and around the city, with totals approaching a foot to the east.

Pittsburgh: Southwest Pennsylvania is one of the trickier areas to forecast. As the storm center passes very close to the region, a matter of 30 miles could make the difference between some snow and a lot of snow. In Pittsburgh itself, about half a foot is most likely, with more north (on the cold side of the storm track) and less south (on the milder side).

The snow arrives early Saturday and after transitioning to a mix of sleet, freezing rain and snow, may flip over to rain for a time late in the day. Some icy troubles seem likely, particularly north of town and in the mountains south and east, where a thick glaze up to a half-inch thick may accumulate. Precipitation should change back to all snow predawn Sunday before winding down early in the morning.

Buffalo: While Buffalo will ride the northwest fringe of the storm, plenty of fluffy snow is likely. Snow begins Saturday morning and persists in some fashion through Sunday. Buffalo seems likely to end up near the lowest end of the range in its region, with “only” about a foot. Places that see lake effect snow combine with the broader winter storm could push two feet or more through the weekend alone.


Snowfall forecast for the country. (National Weather Service)

Albany: Close to some of the maximum snowfall totals expected in this storm, the first flakes fall around and after lunch on Saturday in the capital region of New York. Temperatures are mostly in the teens, with subzero readings rushing in behind the storm, which should subside by Sunday afternoon. About 12 to 18 inches are most likely in the city, but surrounding regions, except to the south, are expected to see 18 to 24 inches.

Burlington: Ski territory in northern New England is salivating at the forecast. On the northern edge of the heaviest snow, Burlington is looking at a good 12 to 18 inches, starting Saturday afternoon and lasting into Sunday night. The snow will be fluffy, the wind gusty, and temperatures mainly in the single digits. That means wind chills mostly subzero for the duration, and near-blizzard conditions likely. The mountains south of Burlington could top two feet of powder.

New York City: A period of moderate snow is likely near the onset of the storm Saturday afternoon into the evening. Several inches could fall in short order. A wintry mix wins out overnight, and it should try to change to plain rain in the city. Nearby suburbs to the north could see a lengthy period of sleet or freezing rain. It’s not impossible this bigger mess ends up in the city as well, given it is in a transition zone in which temperatures are expected to rise only a few degrees above freezing at most. The mix may change back to snow before ending Sunday afternoon.

Hartford, Conn.: Snow is advancing into central southern New England by sunset or so Saturday. It becomes heavy into the night, with rates as high as one to two inches per hour for a time. By sunrise Sunday, snow is mixing with sleet and freezing rain. Current forecasts are around five to 10 inches of snow, in addition to some accumulation of ice before precipitation probably ends as snow late Sunday afternoon. The snowfall numbers could shift depending on the exact storm track.


Ice accumulation forecast for freezing rain from the National Weather Service. Totals of .25 to .5 inches will begin to cause widespread power outages and similar. (weatherbell.com)

Providence: There’s not much difference in the forecast between here and Hartford or Boston, but northern Rhode Island is near where a freezing rain maximum from this storm is anticipated. Hazardous ice accumulations north of Providence may approach half an inch. It’s a similar story across parts of eastern Connecticut and to the south side of the Boston region. In addition to making travel extremely difficult or impossible, this amount of icing often leads to power outages.

Boston: Off to the least snowy start to winter on record, with only 0.2 inches through Friday, snow is expected to start Saturday night. It’s heavy for a time before becoming a wintry mix Sunday. Depending on how much the wintry mix cuts back on snowfall totals, the forecast for about four to eight inches in the city (more northwest, less southeast) could change. With temperatures remaining near and below freezing, travel conditions will be very challenging into Sunday evening, when precipitation should end.

Portland, Maine: Snow moves into coastal Maine on Saturday night and Sunday, including the city of Portland. In between expected snow “jackpots” to the west and northeast, this part of the coast is likely to pick up about 12 to 18 inches as temperatures sit in the teens. The snow should end Sunday night.