Tuesday’s storm will bring many different variables to the state of Maine. The combination of heavy snow and strong north to northeasterly winds will likely lead to blizzard conditions for a large portion of the area. Quite often folks will ask me what is required for a blizzard? While this storm will bring hefty snow totals, the definition has little to do with snow amount. To meet blizzard criteria you need visibility reduced to ¼ mile in heavy falling or blowing snow, winds sustained or frequent gusts of 35 mph or greater, and that must occur for three hours or more. Most of the area should reach that criteria on Tuesday. A Blizzard Warning has been issued.
Expect snow to move in late tonight from south to north. The heaviest bands of snow will likely occur from 2AM through 2PM Tuesday. During that period snowfall rates should be one to two inches per hour at times. The storm will stall for a period to our south which will keep snow around Tuesday night into early Wednesday morning but it will become lighter.
In a perfect world of forecasting, the snow would fall and accumulate to a nice one to two feet for most of the area. In reality, due to the strong winds, snow totals will likely be highly variable. Much like the blizzard on Feb 8th and 9th 2013, drifts of three feet may occur on the south side of your house, while only a few inches may be measured on the north or northeast side. For that reason snow totals will be an adventure tomorrow. Here’s our best estimate.
TIMING: Snow arrives late tonight and extends through the pre dawn hours Wednesday. Heaviest should be a period between 2AM and 2PM.
PRECIP TYPE: All snow. Temperatures look cold in the upper single digits and teens. Therefore the consistency will be a fluffy but wind blown snow.
HOW MUCH: Most towns should pick up one to two feet of snow. Heaviest snow totals will likely occur over extreme southern Maine and New Hampshire.
WIND: North to northeasterly winds will gust 40 to 50 mph. That in combination with heavy snow should lead to blizzard conditions.
TEMPERATURES: This storm will be a cold one. It’s looking like day time temperatures will stay in the single digits and low teens for most. That will make for a fluffy snow. Wind Chills will be below zero.
BLIZZARD WARNING WHAT DOES IT MEAN? Blizzard Warnings are issued when the following conditions are expected. Heavy snow reducing visibilities to ¼ mile or less, winds sustained or frequent gusts of 35 mph, and occurring for three hours or more.
COASTAL FLOODING: Tides are relatively low in the astronomical cycle however prolonged northeasterly winds will build seas of 25 to 30 feet offshore. This may be enough to produce minor flooding around the times of high tide. Beach erosion and splash over are likely. At Portland high tide is 10.0 feet at 4:20 am Tuesday, 9.1 feet at 4:53 am Tuesday and 9.8 ft at 5:23 am Wednesday.
POWER OUTAGES: Strong winds gusting 40 to 50 mph may produce power outages but I don’t anticipate they’ll be widespread. The reason being the dry fluffy nature of the snow will not stick to tree limbs and power lines. Also the ground is frozen with no leaves on the trees.
A MEMORABLE 10 DAYS AHEAD
Tuesday’s storm is not the only one we have in the 7 day forecast. More accumulating snow (possibly moderate to heavy) is possible on Friday. And yet another storm will be near us early next week. In addition, tempeatures will become very cold with highs struggling to get out of the single digits tomorrow and again next week. I think by the end of the winter, folks will look back on this period as the most extreme of the winter. It’s a pattern that is reminiscent of February 1969. Do you remember that one? Several big storms hit in a short period of time. Here are some of the headlines during that period from the Portland paper.
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