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Back-to-back winter storms target snow-starved Northeast

After a night of snow in western and central New England, two more storms are on the way

NAM model simulated radar shows a swath of snow late Sunday night from central Pennsylvania to Maine. (WeatherBell)

Winter has featured paltry snowfall across the Northeast so far, but that’s about to change for many parts of the interior Northeast. One storm rolled through on Thursday night and was pulling away Friday, but two are on the way.

Winter storm warnings for heavy snow remained in effect for eastern New Hampshire and much of coastal and Downeast Maine into Friday evening, kicking off a meteorological triple play that may dent the snowfall deficit.

Another storm is on the way Sunday night into Monday, with a third coming on Wednesday. While both appear poised to deliver rain near the coast, the pair could provide a healthy helping of the white stuff for snow-deprived ski areas from Pennsylvania northward.

A region starved of snow

Snow has been scarce this season. Aside from the couple of lake-effect snowstorms that plagued Watertown, N.Y., and killed at least 47 people in Buffalo, most of the Northeast has been devoid of characteristically bitter winter weather.

Boston, for example, would ordinarily have picked up closer to 18.2 inches of snow by this point in the season on average. Instead, it has received only 4.9 inches.

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New York City has recorded only a trace of snow — a quantity so minuscule it couldn’t even be measured. The average by now is 8.4 inches. Only 1871 featured less season-to-date snowfall as of Jan. 20.

D.C. is in a similar boat. Not a stitch of snow has fallen, compared to an average of about 5 inches for this point in the season. Baltimore and Philadelphia haven’t seen any snow yet either.

A burst of snow Thursday night in northern New England

Snow moved through New England on Thursday night into Friday morning but was primarily relegated to northern zones. Areas south of Boston received mostly rain.

The northern suburbs of Boston, including Winchester, Lexington and Saugus near Route 128, tallied an inch or two of slushy wet snow. Across Middlesex and Essex counties, closer to 2 to 3 inches fell. The greatest amount recorded anywhere in Massachusetts was 6.3 inches in Ashby.

Vermont received a plowable snowfall — with 4 inches in Waterbury, 3 inches in Montpelier and 1.5 inches in Rutland. In New Hampshire, a general 3 to 5 inches fell, except for up to 6.5 inches in Madison, just southwest of Conway. In Portland, Maine, 6.6 inches had fallen through midmorning Friday and it was still snowing.

System No. 1: Sunday

On Sunday, low pressure will form off the coast of the Delmarva Peninsula and head toward Nantucket. That would ordinarily be a classic track that would favor significant snow along the Interstate 95 corridor from Philadelphia northward, but warm air flowing off the mild ocean will once again flip snow to rain.

Snow will push through Ohio and much of Pennsylvania on Sunday afternoon, covering western New York state by Sunday evening. The hills of extreme northwestern Connecticut and Berkshire County, Mass., might receive some snow after nightfall, but most of the snowfall should be confined to Vermont, western and central New Hampshire, and western Maine.

The snow will end in western Maine during the early- to midafternoon hours Monday. Accumulations of 5 to 9 inches are likely in the areas that receive the most.

Philadelphia, New York, Hartford, Conn., Providence, R.I., and Boston and Worcester, Mass., will receive mostly if not all rain. Gusty to locally strong winds and coastal flood concerns may manifest, too.

System No. 2: Tuesday into Wednesday

Another system is likely to affect the Northeast on Tuesday and Wednesday. Unlike its predecessor, however, this one could be an “inside runner.” That means the center of low pressure will take an inland track, rather than slipping northeast parallel to the coastline.

Low-pressure systems in the Northern Hemisphere spin counterclockwise. That means frigid Canadian air is drawn southward on the west side of the system, whereas the east, or right, side of the system is warm. Once again, rain is favored near the coastline, with snow well inland. Given a greater propensity for moisture availability, there could be double-digit snowfall in northern Vermont, New Hampshire and western Maine.