First significant winter storm to bear down on Northeast

23 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

First major winter storm to hit this weekend.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch for much of Central and Eastern Massachusetts, saying a coastal storm beginning Saturday morning could dump 4 to 7 inches of snow.BOSTON — A fast moving storm will sweep up the East Coast Friday into Saturday, raising the probability that snow will fall across the Northeast, including New York.

The nasty winter storm is already taking shape in the South this week, raining down on the Gulf Coast states from Texas to Alabama, and bringing more than a foot of snow to parts of New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle. The first storm is expected to undergo rapid intensification as it slides up the coast, packing tropical storm force winds and a plume of tropical moisture stretching all the way down to the Caribbean.

The situation in New York is particularly complex and will probably include periods of rain and snow, said Tim Morrin, a weather service meterologist in Upton, New York. In question is how far off the coast the storm will track, though model forecasts have tended to place the storm in the sweet spot for Northeast coast snow. However there’s no cold high pressure system to the north and northwest to feed cold air into the region, which would help to create a more confident snow forecast. On Thursday morning, NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center was forecasting a 40-50 percent chance of 4 inches or more for parts of southern Pennsylvania and the northern NYC metro area, but models are suggesting Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts will be the hardest hit by the weekend’s storm. The storm currently is over Texas and will be moving across the states along the Gulf of Mexico later Thursday, said Rob Carolan, a meteorologist with Hometown Forecast Services Inc. in Nashua, New Hampshire.

One model brings the storm closer to the coast, which would increase snowfall along the Interstate 95 corridor, while the other keeps it farther out to sea. “The big thing with this particular storm is that we are lacking cold air,” Carolan said. “Any intrusion of wind off the Atlantic is going to be warm.” Dry air wrapping into the system could also keep snow totals down, Hurley said. In Boston, Winter Storm Watches have already been posted for areas just inland of the coast, where brief periods of heavy, wet snow may make travel difficult and take a toll on power lines.

Precipitation will spread north into the Boston area on Saturday morning, likely beginning as snow, with the potential for rain to mix in in the afternoon.

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