Snow, Sleet & Rain Is Still Expected Beginning Tonight & Continuing Through Friday Into Saturday: An area of low pressure is now developing over the Carolinas and is expected to track to near the New Jersey coast by early Friday morning. That low pressure system is then expected to track near the south coast of New England by late Friday and then head towards Nova Scotia during Saturday. Where exactly the change over line from snow to rain sets up continues to be one big headache and elevation is going to play a big role in whether you see snow or rain – meaning, areas that are 1,000 feet or more above sea level will probably end up seeing higher accumulations of snow than those areas that are in the valleys. The area that looks to “jackpot” in terms of snow amounts looks to be the Berkshires and perhaps the western Hilltowns of Western Mass. So, let’s try to break this down as best as we can with a caveat – The exact position of the snow-rain line is still uncertain and changes to where this sets up may occur. Tonight: Steady precipitation is expected to overspread Western Mass between about 7 pm and 10 pm this evening with the precipitation developing across Central Mass during the 10 pm to midnight time frame. It appears that the precipitation tonight will be in the form of all snow over the Berkshires and the western Hilltowns of Western Mass. Over the Pioneer Valley, the precipitation looks to be in the form of rain throughout the night tonight. Further east, areas near and north of Route 2 may flip between a snow-rain mix and all snow depending on the intensity of the precipitation. This means that when the intensity is heavy, it’ll probably be falling as snow with the precipitation flipping to a snow-rain mix when it lightens up in intensity. Like I said, not an easy forecast!! South of Route 2, the precipitation should be mostly all rain throughout tonight. The exception will be the hills west of I-190 and the hills between Monson and Charlton where the rain may mix with or even change to snow at times tonight. In fact, some of the high resolution model guidance hints at a period of moderate to heavy snow between about 3 am and 7 am Friday morning in the Worcester Hills, as well as along the Mass Pike between Palmer and Charlton with a quick 1 to 3 inches of accumulation. Temperatures tonight will be in the low to mid 30s. Winds will be East at 10 to 20 mph with gusts to 30 mph. Friday & Friday Night: A very elevation dependent winter storm is expected throughout Friday and Friday where valley locations see a cold, wind-swept rain and the higher elevations at or above 1000 feet sees a heavy wet snow, especially in the Berkshires. Mostly all snow is likely to occur all day Friday right through Friday night across the Berkshires and the western Hilltowns of Western Mass. This snow, which is expected to be wet and heavy, will combine with gusty winds and may lead to downed trees and powerlines leading to power outage issues. Elsewhere, all rain is expected across the Pioneer Valley of Western Mass all day Friday into Friday night before the rain changes to snow very late Friday night. Across Central Mass, areas near and east of I-190 and I-395 will see all rain throughout the day Friday into the first half of Friday night before it changes to snow after midnight Friday night. For areas west of I-190 and I-395, mostly all rain is anticipated throughout Friday into Friday evening. That said, the rain probably will mix with sleet and snow at times & may even change to snow at times, especially in the higher elevations of the Worcester Hills, as well as the higher elevations of the hills around Monson, Palmer, Brimfield, Sturbridge and Charlton. All precipitation should change to all snow everywhere across Central Mass after midnight Friday night. As for areas near and especially north of Route 2, a rain-snow mix that changes to snow at times is expected throughout Friday and Friday night. This mixture looks to change to all snow after midnight Friday night. Temperatures during Friday and Friday night will fluctuate between 33 and 38 Degrees depending on elevation. Winds on Friday will be East at 15 to 25 mph with gusts to 40 mph. Winds on Friday night will be Northeast at 15 to 25 mph with gusts to 35 to 40 mph before midnight and North at 10 to 20 mph after midnight. Saturday: As that low pressure system moves towards Nova Scotia, it will pull down colder air leading to snow to continue through mid-morning before it ends from southwest to northeast during the late morning and early afternoon hours. Skies will then remain cloudy throughout the afternoon on Saturday. High temperatures Saturday will be between 35 and 40 Degrees. Winds will be North to Northwest at 10 to 20 mph. Forecast Snow Totals: The least amount of snow looks to occur across the lower and middle Pioneer Valley and east of I-190 and I-395 where 1 to 2 inches of snow are expected. Across areas of the Mass Pike between Palmer and Auburn, snow amounts of 2 to 3 inches are expected. For the Worcester Hills (area west of I-190 & north of the Mass Pike), but south of Route 2, including Brookfield, Paxton, Rutland, Holden and Hubbardston, snow amounts of 3 to 5 inches looks likely. In the upper Pioneer Valley, as well as across areas near and north of Route 2, snow amounts of 5 to possibly as much as 8 inches of wet and heavy snow looks possible. The area that is expected to see the highest snow totals from this storm will be the western Hilltowns of Western Mass and the Berkshires where snow totals of 10 to 15 inches are expected. Isolated amounts of up to 18 inches are possible near the Mass-Vermont border. This is going to be wet and heavy snow. This factor, combined with the gusty winds is likely to lead to downed trees and powerlines across the Berkshires and the western Hilltowns. Sunday: A sunny to partly sunny day is expected on Sunday with high temperatures near 35 Degrees. Monday Through Wednesday: Quiet weather is expected for the first half of next week with sunny to partly sunny skies expected on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. High temperatures all three days will be around 35 Degrees. A Significant Winter Storm May Impact The Area Late Next Week: All of the weather forecast guidance are showing the potential for another coastal storm system to impact Western and Central Mass at about the end of next week. There are some minor timing differences between the individual model members with some showing a winter storm for next Thursday through next Friday and others showing a storm from next Friday through Christmas Eve. One thing that seems certain is that there could be a significant winter storm that could bring enough snow to cause significant travel hazards and enough snow to plow late next week. This is not good news for those of you with travel plans between next Thursday and Christmas Eve and my recommendation to you is to see if you could travel a little earlier next week, perhaps on Wednesday or so. Another thing that I want to mention is that this looks like it’ll be a storm system that affects a large part of the United States east of the Mississippi Valley starting on next Thursday with snow and ice being a potential travel problem across the Midwestern United States and the East Coast of the United States from Virginia northward through all of New England. So, again my recommendation is to just “test the waters” and see if you can travel earlier next week, should you have travel plans between next Thursday and Christmas Eve. Given the huge impacts that this storm could have in terms of Christmas travel, I will have frequent updates for you as needed.
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