It is October, Right?

So I mentioned there was a chance of snow in New England a couple days ago.  Then, I back off a little bit yesterday thinking it would be primarily confined to the highest elevations.  And while that appears to be the case, snow is being seen at lower elevations in places like Schenectady, NY and Boxborough, MA.  Winter Weather Advisories are in place for higher elevations in Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. where 3-5+ inches of snow are expected to accumulate through tonight.  The snow, much like what Denver experienced yesterday, will be heavy and wet.  This is good news for travelers as roads should be mainly wet.  On the other hand, it’s not good news for people who like electricity as the heavy, wet snow can bring down tree branches and power lines.

And speaking of heavy, wet snow that can bring down tree branches and power lines, it’s looking more and more like that will happen in the Northeast on Saturday.  A Winter Storm Watch is already in effect for parts of eastern Pennsylvania and northwestern New Jersey where the heaviest snowfall (4-8 inches) is forecast to occur.  However, snow can be expected from the mountains of West Virginia through Boston if the forecast holds.

I hesitated blogging about this storm because there was a lot of uncertainty over the past couple days.  Heck, there still is a lot of uncertainty, but at least the models appear to agree that a southern storm will turn northeastward off the east coast and intensify at is moves up the coast – a classic Nor’easter.  Much like the snow falling in New England right now, it appears the best chance for snowfall will be at higher elevations although I believe the chance of accumulating snowfall at lower elevations is higher with this storm.  However, one model presents a rather scary scenario.

The North American Model (NAM) forecast for 5PM EDT on Saturday. Shading is precipitation. Solid black lines are isobars. The blue line represents the freezing line at 850 mb.

In this scenario depicted by this afternoon’s run of the NAM model, the I-95 corridor from DC to NYC would receive a significant amount of heavy, wet snow (maybe 4-6 inches).  Considering tree limbs are still largely full of leaves and the winds would be strong, this could be a disastrous scenario as power would be lost for millions of people.

I don’t believe that scenario will play out.  I’m more inclined to believe this Accuweather forecast:

Accuweather's forecast for snowfall on 10/29/11.

I think the totals are a little too high, but the area of coverage seems about right.  This doesn’t mean that places like DC, Baltimore, Philly, and NYC won’t see some flakes fly, I just doubt it will accumulate much at all.  Nevertheless, that NAM solution lingers and it needs to be respected – at least until the next model run tonight.

Anyway you look at it, it seems someone’s going to see snow Saturday and, unfortunately, there will probably be some power outages as well.  There’s always the chance the storm stays South and just heads out to sea (this is why I was hesitant to post earlier), but the models seem to agree on bringing this storm up the coast and dumping some snow (along with rain nearer the coast) as it passes by.  Looks like some in the Northeast are going to have a White Halloween!

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