Major Winter Snow Storm With Blizzard Conditions Possible Saturday – CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) – Did they just say the “B” word?

Yup, we did. Actually, if you are paying close attention you may hear several “B” words in the coming days.

Blizzard.

Blockbuster.

Bombogenesis.

(WBZ-TV Graphic)

At this point, all options are on the table for our Saturday storm. However, with each passing hour and computer model run, the likelihood of a major winter storm continues to grow. Let me emphasize that this is NOT A LOCK just yet. We are still in the forecasting window (about 3 days out) when we are analyzing trends and looking thousands of miles away for the pieces that will eventually come together to create our storm. While weather models have come leaps and bounds in recent years, there is still only so much you can confidently predict this far in advance of a storm.

Typically, within 72 hours (Wednesday), we have the ability to start honing in and being more descriptive when discussing potential impacts. Within 48 hours (Thursday), it is typically time for snow maps, wind projections, and all those classic graphics you see before a New England snowstorm. By Friday, 24 hours out, it is refining details and getting as specific as possible town by town.

So what can we say right now with confidence? This has the potential to easily be our biggest storm of the season. In fact, it has been nearly four years (March 13, 2018) since we had official Blizzard conditions in southern New England… so by that measure, it COULD be our biggest storm in years. What are the odds of such an occurrence?

(WBZ-TV Graphic)

I’m going to discuss three potential scenarios here, but really the potential tracks are somewhat infinite. In a storm of this magnitude, every mile (east or west), every little nudge of the center of the storm one way or another, is critically important, almost similar to that of a hurricane. But let’s look at three distinct and still very plausible scenarios.

# 1 The Coast Hugger

About a 25% chance.

The center of the storm comes over or very close to southeastern Mass. This would inevitably introduce milder air and some rain into the equation certainly, over the Cape and Islands and in an extreme case (likely closer to a 10% chance) push the rain / snow line back through interior Massachusetts. This would mean the heaviest snow totals would be shoved well west, perhaps back into the Worcester Hills and Berkshires and the winds might not resemble that of a classic nor’easter along the coastline with more of a southeast or southerly component.

# 2 A Classic 40N / 70W “Benchmark” track

About a 50% chance.

The majority of the models and their ensembles point towards this scenario, a classic New England snow-track, with the center of the storm passing close to the “benchmark”, 40N / 70W (south of Nantucket).

This would be a worst-case scenario for many reasons. First, our entire area would be buried in snow, perhaps well over a foot in a wide swath of southern New England. Perhaps the most concerning would be the winds and coastal flooding. If the storms passing were to line up with high tide along our east coast (around 8 am Saturday), this could have devastating consequences to coastal communities. We are talking about widespread damage, inundation, and flooding like we have not seen in years.

If the storm were a bit slower and arrived Saturday evening, at low tide, the impact would still be significant but much less severe. This track would also give us the highest chance of seeing blizzard conditions along the coast. One final note, there could also be a very large “fluff factor” away from the immediate coastline. Snow could stack up very quickly and there would be considerable blowing and drifting.

(WBZ-TV Graphic)

# 3 Eastern Track

About a 25% chance.

If you are rooting to be spared and for the least amount of impact possible, this is your scenario. A track farther east would mean either a fringing of greatest impacts (heaviest snow over extreme eastern Mass., Cape Cod) or perhaps a complete miss, wide right. Just to give you an idea, while the chances of a track in the eastern envelope are about 25%, I would say the chances of a total miss are much lower, probably between 5-10% right now. There would likely still be some wind and coastal impact but nothing on the magnitude of either of the above scenarios.

Clearly, the stakes are extraordinarily high. Our team will be watching this hour by hour, minute by minute in the coming days. We will have frequent updates here on CBSBoston.com, on WBZ-TV and on CBS Boston News. We have you covered!

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