The first true nor'easter of the season brought heavy rain in many areas, and in some turned to steady and heavy snow, disrupting travel and knocking out power for thousands throughout the afternoon Saturday.
A band of the storm was expected to dump 1-2 inches of snow per hour throughout the evening, making for poor visibility and tricky travel. Road conditions have already deteriorated across New England, with several agencies reporting weather-related crashes before the worst of the storm arrived.
The wind will continue as an issue along the coast overnight, where 60-70 mph gusts will be possible and could lead to power outages in these areas, as well.
More than 21,000 people in Massachusetts were without power around 11:45 p.m. Saturday, according to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. Outages seemed to peak around 6:45 p.m., when more than 47,000 were reported to have lost power.
When you have a storm that manufactures its own frigid air, that cold air is present only when you have intense precipitation rates. When the rates of precipitation drop off, the snow has changed back to rain in some locations.
Although the air is only marginally cold enough for snow, that’s already been enough to get the job done in the northern half of New England. And central Massachusetts has seen significant snowfall as well, with Worcester reporting 6 inches of snow by midafternoon.
It’s the strengthening process of the storm that is driving the snow line southeast into southern New England. A strengthening storm draws air into its center, so as the storm intensifies moving over Cape Cod, then east of Boston Harbor and into the Gulf of Maine, it will draw air toward its core from the north and northwest, where the slightly but sufficiently colder air for snow is found.
As a result, snow first took over from rain in southern New Hampshire and western Massachusetts, then the higher terrain of the Worcester hills through late morning and midday Saturday.
After the morning’s heavy rain of over an inch in some spots, standing water on roadways that already has made travel difficult with big puddles and hydroplaning concerns take on the heavy snow, encouraging slush and then freezing of the road surfaces, with snow falling on top of that ice.
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As with any change from rain to snow, the snow that falls will be wet and heavy in consistency for much of central and southern New England, though a bit lighter in the north.
This means those who pick up substantial snow will find it tough to shovel and push around, but it also won’t reach the same measurement on the ruler as those farther north. While a heavy, wet snow can cause plenty of headaches due to its weight and slippery consistency, it also takes longer to add up.
TIMELINE: An Hour-by-Hour Look at This Weekend's Nor'easter
In New Hampshire, Nashua and Dover have both declared parking bans, in order to allow room for snow plows. In Massachusetts, Dudley has done the same.
We’re forecasting 12-18 inches of snow in a band from the northeast Connecticut hill-towns to the crown of Maine, with lesser amounts toward the coast, where the warmth holds on longer, and very little on Cape Cod and the South Coast.
Meanwhile, the drawing of air toward the storm center accelerating during Saturday afternoon and evening will be felt as wind – gusty wind.
In fact, the storm grows strong enough for some gusts from the north, then northwest, to reach 60 miles per hour along the eastern coastline of New England. Of course, wind gusts to 60 mph would result in some power outages, anyway, but you can imagine where rain changes to a heavy, wet snow – even away from the coast where winds may gust to 40 or 45 mph instead – the snow will add weight to power lines and tree limbs, stressed by the gusty wind that will give way and cause more power outages.
As colder air streams in, temperatures will fall to the 20s overnight Saturday night with a wind chill in the teens, making for cold night where power is out, and snow will taper for many but continue much of the night in Maine.
Precipitation will move out of extreme southern New England by 8 or 9 p.m., central New England by midnight and northern Maine by early Sunday morning. There will also be a re-freeze on area roadways.
Tomorrow will stay breezy and chilly across New England, but will bring a partial clearing of the sky – a blustery blend of clouds and sun with high temperatures stuck in the 30s in wind chill values in the 20s.
Chilly air, customary of December, is in the forecast for the upcoming week, with another big storm developing to our southeast early in the week but expected to miss New England over the waters of the Western Atlantic, affording a stretch of quiet weather for the workweek in our exclusive, First Alert 10-day forecast.