by Kate Bilo
It’s all anyone is talking about already – a major winter storm potential Friday into Saturday. And with that, of course, the question: how much snow are we going to get?
Here’s the thing. It’s just too early to talk numbers like that. Sure, it’s easy to find snow maps floating around the internet. It’s easy to find worst-case scenarios out there. And yes, there is a chance parts of our area get over a foot of snow this weekend. But there’s also a chance those numbers are much lower.
Consider that the storm is still off the coast of California. Once the storm moves over land, the computer models can sample a greater amount of data and really fine-tune the strength of the system and what the track will be. That means it will likely be Wednesday at the earliest before we start throwing numbers out there and creating a snow map for the area.
But we can certainly talk about impacts. Regardless of the snow amounts, someone in the east is going to get a large dose of heavy snow. In addition, as the storm strengthens, we’ll be dealing with very strong, gusty winds – in some spots possibly exceeding 40 mph. This can blow the snow around and lead to low visibility.
Temperatures will be marginal – close to freezing – so expect this to be a heavy, wet snow. And that leads into another potential limiting factor – warmth from the ocean and warmth drawn in from the south. There’s a chance that at least part of the area will experience mixing with sleet and rain, especially down the shore.
If the track of the storm trends north and west and enough warmth pulls in, this could change over to rain even for the city. But if the storm tracks further south, that means more cold and more straight snow, but potentially a bullseye of heavy snow off to our south and west vs. here. But this is also the kind of snow that likes to “thump” – if banding occurs, we could be looking at intense snowfall rates for at least a few hours.
Timing-wise, we’re still looking at late Friday for the onset of precipitation. Today’s runs have slowed the storm a bit, so expect the greatest impacts to be early Saturday into the majority of the day.
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