Sunday, January 20, 2019

01.20.19 Winter Storm Live Blog

Post 1- 659 AM

Good Morning all.  Keep your electronics charged today.  After around 5" of snow overnight, precipitation has changed over to sleet, freezing rain, and rain.  There is a heck of a temperature gradient across the Blackstone Valley right now.

Wunderground Weather Station Temp Data 650 AM

Temperatures are in the teens and low 20's in the 01534 section of Northbridge, Grafton. Sutton, Millbury, Auburn, and Worcester.  Temps are in the upper 20's in the Whitinsville section of Northbridge and low 30's in Mendon, Uxbridge, and Blackstone.  Here is a zoomed in look at Northbridge.

Wunderground Temperature Station Temp Data 650 AM
There is a 10-degree difference from Linwood Ave to Sutton Street.  I will have my eyes glued to this data today.  There is a mix of sleet and freezing rain falling right now.  Plain rain is so close, in Blackstone and Bellingham.

AccuWeather Boston Local Radar 645 AM
I suspect the rain will make it into Northbridge but I don't see those 15-20 degree temps being dislodged from Douglas, Sutton, Millbury, Auburn, and Worcester.  That means a long duration ice event is underway.

Post 2 744 AM

One hour later, and a definitive cooling trend at the surface.  The rain line has been pushed back to Franklin, MA.  Temps that were 29-30 an hour ago in Northbridge and Uxbridge are now 24/27 degrees.  I hope you have a radio ready.  I'm going to reach out to Scott Zolak and let him know he may have a bigger audience than usual tonight.

Post 3 852 AM

The power outage map from National Grid can be found here.  The MEMA power outage map can be found here.  So far, 546 customers are without power in Massachusetts.  I do not believe the rain-snow line will make any more progress into Southern Worcester County.  If you currently have sleet and freezing rain, you will likely continue with that all day.

So how do we get sleet and freezing rain when its this cold at the surface?  We have warm air in a layer above the surface.  Its roughly 40 degrees at 5000 feet.

National Weather Service Precipitation Type Temp Profile

Post 4 930 AM

The power outage map is up to 2000 customers.  The majority of those are in and around the Boston area.  The colder than expected temperatures are actually good in Central Massachusetts.  I think we will see more sleet than freezing rain.  The freezing rain threat is shifting south towards the Boston to Providence corridor.  That doesn't mean we are off the hook in the Blackstone Valley.  When the winds increase this afternoon I expect scattered outages.

MEMA Outages map
Elsewhere, a strong band of rain and wind is approaching Southeastern Massachusetts.  Some wind damage will be possible as that reaches Martha's Vineyard and Buzzards Bay.

COD Weather Center NEXRAD 1 km Radar 
Some heavier precipitation will arrive in Southern Worcester County over the next 1-3 hours.

Post 5 1055 AM

The latest forecast from the National Weather Service calls for an additional 0.25-0.50 inches of ice accreditation through 7 PM tonight.

NWS Additional Ice Accumulation Forecast
This would be a moderate to major winter event according to a new experimental National Weather Service product.

Ice Storm Severity Index (New and Experimental)
A Flash Freeze is a major threat in SE MA, RI, and CT.

Flash Freeze Severity Index (New and Experimental)
The radar suggests that the heaviest precipitation is yet to come for Southern Worcester County into Northeast Massachusetts.  Look at this moisture feed.

COD Weather Center NEXRAD 2 km radar 11 AM
This heavy precipitation will increase the amount of ice on the power lines and tree limbs.

Post 6 1245 PM

A *Wind Chill Advisory* has been issued from tonight at 9 PM until tomorrow at 12 PM.  Here is the text from the National Weather Service.



Air temperatures will be near 0 with winds gusting to 30 MPH out of the NW. 

-ZG

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Final Thoughts As Winter Storm Approaches Region

The National Weather Service in Norton, MA has issued a *Winter Storm Warning* for Western, Central and Northeastern Massachusetts.  A *Winter Weather Advisory* has been issued for Connecticut, Rhode Island, and parts Southeastern Massachusetts.
NWS Headlines Saturday 3 PM
Each subregion of Southern New England (SNE) faces unique hazards from this storm system.  The biggest snow totals will be confined to Northern New England but over a foot is possible in Northwest Massachusetts.  The highest totals in Central and Eastern MA will be in the communities along the NH/MA border, away from the immediate coast.  Meanwhile, river, coastal, and flash flooding are all hazards along the South Coast, Cape, and Islands.  Some minor river flooding is possible in parts of Rhode Island.  In the middle, where most people reading this blog live, we will see snow, sleet, freezing rain, and even plain rain.  The snow will be heavy at times, the sleet will heavy at times, and the freezing rain/rain will be heavy at times.  Got all that?  Let's break it down.

Timing
Precipitation begins as snow starting around 7 PM. Flurries this afternoon shouldn't stick to the roads.  Snow will be flying everywhere, including the Cape and Islands, by 10 PM.  Snow will begin to stick around this time too.  Temperatures inland will be in the mid to upper 20's.  After midnight, the snow/mix/rain line begins to advance north as warmer air surges in.  Sleet gets into Northern RI/South Central MA around 4 AM.  This line gets to Worcester/Framingham/Boston by 5 AM and into the Lowell/Lawerence area by 7 AM.  South of the Pike in Eastern MA and all of RI will be plain rain by 8 AM.  

18z HRRR precip type/qpf Sat 7 PM- Sun 6 PM (image WeatherModels.com)
Freezing rain will develop in CT and Central/Western MA around 7-8 AM.  0.25-0.40 inches of ice is possible which is not good for travel or the power grid, especially with 30-40 MPH wind gusts.  The latest computer models are pretty warm so hopefully, we flip to plain rain tomorrow in the Blackstone Valley.  However, this wouldn't happen until late morning/early afternoon, and we will finish with freezing rain tomorrow evening so travel will be very difficult tomorrow.  But, we could save ourselves the tree/powerline problems.

How Much Snow/Ice/Precipitation?

Snow
Expected Snow (via NWS Boston)
Plowable snow for sure, falling fast between midnight and 4 AM.

Ice
Expected Ice (via NWS Boston)
Tomorrow morning through early evening.  There is high uncertainty with this forecast.

In total, there will be 2-3" of precipitation with this system.

Frigid Monday

With all that liquid on the ground, a flash freeze will occur regionwide tomorrow evening.  Any untreated surfaces will become skating rinks.  Temperatures will drop into the single digits by Monday morning and will stay there.  Wind chill temperatures on Monday will be below zero.  It will be a miserable day to be outside.

Thank You NWS Employees
If you want me to just "stick to the weather", have a great day, thanks for reading!  I have something I need to get off my chest and I'm getting political.

The National Weather Service is working without pay during this government shutdown.  Yes, they will get back pay but a lot of people live paycheck to paycheck or pretty close.  I feel for the younger employees like me, several of whom are friends of mine.  I would not be able to run this blog without the products and messaging from the National Weather Service.  During the duration of the government shutdown, I have not noticed any problems with NWS or the data they offer.  It is a testament to their commitment to their job.  They had to endure this hatchet piece from the Washington Post which ran for 11 days before someone finally published a correction.  That correction was prompted by AccuWeather who wrote a rather tasteless, shameless promotion of their own product.  AccuWeather's tone was bad, but when the well known and highly regarded WaPo writes a story like that, I'm not sure you can fault a private company for trying to capitalize/respond after an anonymous source told the WaPo, "You're forecast will suffer!"

The weather community rallied to the NWS's defense after the AccuWeather article.  AccuWeather updated the story and made it softer.  That is a good thing.  As I stated above, all of the meteorology community relies on the public sector as the leading communicator for watches and warnings, as well as data for the GFS, NAM, HRRR and other weather models.  There wasn't a need to kick them when they are down.  However, there were crickets with a few minor exceptions, most notably Dr. Ryan Maue, after the WaPo hit piece.

AccuWeather's CEO Barry Myers stepped down on January 1 and has been nominated by President Trump to take over as the director of NOAA.  AccuWeather has also rubbed people in the meteorological community the wrong way for it's 45 and 90-day forecasts, and issuing their own warnings to clients for tornadoes.  The meteorological community is heavily slanted towards left-leaning folks, often with pressure from the academic climate change community.  The vitriol towards AccuWeather came out this week.  After silence on the WaPo story, a weather twitter mob swarmed upon the State College, PA based company.  This tells me that folks in the weather community are okay with smearing the NWS if you blame in on the orange man in the White House.  It shows that like everything else, meteorology is politicized.  The AccuWeather piece has hurt some feelings, while the Washington Post article was downright harmful to the meteorological community and to the amount of faith people (or lack thereof) have in meteorologists to get the forecast right.  It's a shame the reaction wasn't to call out the Post immediately after the article. 

I'll do my absolute best to keep politics out of my blogs.  Sometimes, I just can't. 

-Zack Green

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Winter Storm Watch Issued For Sunday, Heavy Precipitation Expected

The National Weather Service in Norton, MA has issued a *Winter Storm Watch* from Saturday afternoon through Sunday evening.  Expected hazards include snow, sleet, and freezing rain.

NWS Headlines 01.17.19 330 PM
Without further ado...

Short Term Forecast

Some light snow will move in tonight, with little to no accumulation.  There could be some slick spots on the road tomorrow but it should be no problem.  Temperatures will max in the upper 30's/low 40's and we might even see some sun by tomorrow afternoon.  Temps Saturday will be in the 20's as we set the table for the winter sandwich of precipitation that is to come on Sunday.

Part 1 Saturday 8 PM- Sunday 5 AM

Snow begins to fly after 8 PM Saturday night.  Most of Southern New England is snowing by 10 PM, with the exception the immediate South Coast, Cape, and Islands where it will mix/rain.  Snow intensity peaks between 11 PM and 4 AM in Northern Rhode Island and Southern Worcester County.  By 3 AM, sleet, freezing rain, and rain will begin marching north through CT/RI/and SE MA.  Snow will begin to change to sleet and freezing rain in Northern RI/Southern Worcester County after 4 AM, with a complete change over by 5 AM.
12z ECMWF 1 hour precip type/MSLP Saturday 6 PM- Sunday 5 AM (image WeatherModels.com)
The majority of the snow that will fall in Central and Eastern MA, RI, and CT will fall during this overnight time frame.  Expect 5-10" with higher amounts near and north of Worcester and lighter amounts closer to Providence. 

Part 2 Sunday 5 AM- Sunday 5 PM

Periods of sleet, freezing rain, and rain.  The rain is likely confined to Norfolk, Bristol, Plymouth, Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket counties in MA as well as most of RI and SE CT.  Elsewhere, there is a 30% chance of at least 0.25" of ice accretion from freezing rain for a good swath of CT, RI, and MA.

WPC Freezing Rain Probability 24 hours prior to Sunday 7 PM
This is significant threat to travel and the power grid.  Snow is one thing, sleet is a bit annoying as it increases the weight to plow/shovel/snow blow, but freezing rain can cause long duration power problems.   Winds will gust 20-35 MPH during the day when this freezing rain is falling.  That isn't a big deal usually, but when trees and power lines are being weighed down by ice it becomes a greater issue. 

12z ECMWF 1 hour precip type/MSLP Sunday 5 AM- Sunday 5 PM (image WeatherModels.com)
Now there is hope that this model is overdoing the freezing rain and just get a sleet bomb out of this.  The American NAM model has lots of sleet and just a narrow band of freezing rain.  Either way it will be slippery, sloppy, and messy, but we won't have to deal with damage to the power grid in a sleet storm.  Somebody, even if it is localized, is going to get a long ice storm out of this I am afraid. 

Part 3- Sunday Evening-Monday

The system will end with 1-3" of snow and temperatures falling into the single digits/below 0 as we settle in to watch the AFC Championship Game. 

Takeaways

Be prepared to lose power for a few days.  It will be brutally cold on Monday and Tuesday.  Then root for sleet or rain instead of freezing rain.  We'll talk tomorrow and I can take questions after 8 PM on my Facebook page.

-Zack Green

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Winter Returns With A Vengeance

If you are a member of my Facebook weather group (Blackstone Valley Weather Service- please like and share if you enjoy my work), you know that I was skeptical that we could see a big snowstorm this weekend.  Most of the storms this season have cut to our west and brought plain rain.  When the computer models started to show that happening again, it seemed reasonable.  Well something changed last night.  Specifically, the low pressure center that will lift out of the Southern Plains is now modeled to move along the South Coast, instead of to our west.  That changes the temperature profile from warm to cold.  That would mean more snow and ice.  I wanted to see the morning model runs before posting today.  When I saw the Euro model this morning....

(Super Troopers, h/t @chrishamptonwx)

Is there any snow before this weekend?
Yes! Some light snow will fall overnight Thursday into Friday AM.  Worcester will probably have a two hour delay because, well, that's all it takes in that city.  Everyone else will be able to handle it but salt and sand trucks will need to do a quick treatment of the roads.

01.16.19 12z NAM 3 km P-type Friday 5 AM (image WeatherModels.com)

 What are we facing this weekend?
A multi-faceted winter storm that will bring a heavy thump of snow and then a change over to sleet/freezing rain/rain for some, before finishing everywhere as snow.  This part of my thinking has not changed.  The difference now is that the thump of snow will be fast and furious and will hold on longer.  Unfortunately, the Blackstone Valley is right on the line between all snow, freezing rain, and rain.  The exact forecast will come into clearer focus tomorrow.

When will it start?
Snow will begin Saturday night, increasing in intensity after midnight.

When will it end?
After snowing into Sunday morning, a change to sleet and freezing rain will occur in parts of the region.  I'm not going to try and nail this today, but just know the Blackstone Valley, RI/CT, and SE MA all have a chance to see a long period of sleet and freezing rain.  It will go over to snow Sunday afternoon as the storm pulls away and Arctic air rushes in behind the system.  Snow may linger until Monday morning.

What will the temperatures be?
North of the Mass Pike, freezing.  South of the Mass Pike, it can be 10 degrees in one town and 35 degrees two towns over.   Everyone gets cold Sunday afternoon.  By Monday morning, most people are near 0 with many communities below 0.

Will it be windy?
There will be wind gusts in excess of 35 MPH at times.  Blowing snow will help to limit visibility.

What kind of snow are we getting? Snowball/snowman snow, cement, or fluffy?
It depends how much mixing we get.  Where it is all snow it will be light and fluffy.  If just sleet mixes in, it will be a nice mix of fluff and snowball type snow.  Where there is prolonged icing or rain, there will be cement snow.

Will there be power outages?
Unfortunately, yes.  Have a backup plan for the championship games.

How much snow can I expect?
Its looking significant.  I don't really do snow maps this early, but at least a foot is on the table in most communities.  The longer it snows, the more you get.  It's about time...


I'll have much more tomorrow.  Winter has returned.  Let's go!

(TB 12, obviously)

Biggest Snow Storm Of The Season Heads To Impact Region Tonight

The National Weather Service (NWS) in Norton, MA has issued a * Winter Storm Warning * from 7 PM tonight until 10 AM Wednesday.  A widesprea...