** EDITED FOR A SLIGHT DOWNGRADE TO SNOW AMOUNTS **
Firstly, let me answer the question posed in the blog title: Yes, and no.
Secondly, allow me to give my reasoning for both answers, leading to a First Night forecast, and my attempt to describe why the late-week snow event will not likely be a classic “northeaster”, as some like to call them, but in some ways may resemble one, for at least parts of the region: An Arctic cold front passed through the region during Monday, with less fanfare than might be expected from such a boundary. Nevertheless, it’s through, and the Arctic air may not be blasting in via the Montreal Express, but it is oozing into the region like a cloud of dry ice, and once it is in place, it will be hanging around for a while. The clipper system will be rather small and of light to moderate strength, as far as such systems go, and will track across central and northern New England Tuesday afternoon and evening. A northerly track of a system like this generally produces little in the way of precipitation (snow in this case) for southeastern New England, but some snow shower activity is expected, mainly along the leading edge of a boundary which will serve to reinforce the Arctic air as we count down the final hours of 2013. When we flip the calendar to 2014, it’ll be very cold but dry and with a gusty breeze, air temperatures in the teens and wind chill values being driven down toward zero at times. If you plan to be outside, please dress appropriately…
…As many people are sleeping off the results of their late-night on New Year’s Day (Wednesday), the cold will be firmly established, setting the stage for the next event. As is often the case, the various computer models offer a variety of solutions when trying to come up with how this event will unfold. The most in-common thing between them all is the cold remains in place, and snow falls in the region during a prolonged period that starts as early as Wednesday night (more likely early Thursday morning) and ends sometime Friday. The majority of the models depict a variation of my initial thoughts on this system, a stretched out area of low pressure, possibly with more than one center, tracking south of where most of your classic storms would track. One model has been a little more aggressive in predicting a stronger, dominant low, taking the classic track for a big time snowstorm. It must be noted that even though I am not on board with the classic set up, the model forecasting it has a decent track record and the solution cannot be completely ignored. I do feel that an outcome more like the other models is what eventually takes place. However, that does not mean that we hardly get any snow. This particular set up, with a strong Arctic high to the north, plenty of cold air, a boundary nearby, some instability at mid levels of the atmosphere lifting into the region, and a long fetch of east to northeast winds from the ocean between the low to the south and the high to the north, all combine to still produce significant snowfall amounts through most of the region (significant being 4 inches or more in a fairly widespread fashion). With the cold air dominating, snow to water ratios will be fairly high, so it will not take a lot of liquid equivalent precipitation to pile up a good amount of snow, which will be very low water content. A difference between this set up and one like we saw on December 17 will be that the accumulation with the upcoming event occurs over nearly 2 days’ time, versus the 3 to 4 hour week-before-Christmas rush-hour dumping of snow we saw on December 17. This will lessen the overall impact of the snow, though will not render it insignificant, so caution still must be practiced.
In case you had difficulty staying awake during the description above, allow me to summarize where we have gone so far, before we move on…
*Tuesday: Fairly weak clipper system, few snow showers for the early part of First Night activities, no significant accumulation, then clearing, windy, and very cold for the countdown to midnight.
*Longer-duration snow event begins overnight Wednesday night and lasts into early Friday.
*Snow amounts of at least 4 inches are very possible over most of the region, with an early call on highest amounts being in northeastern MA and southern NH (based on where I think a heavier snow band may set up from air lifting over a boundary), and along the eastern coast of MA (due to ocean-enhanced snowfall).
*Snow impact much less than December 17 because of the more drawn-out event and possibly lower amounts.
*I have not mentioned this yet, but may need to watch for minor coastal flooding at high tide times because of a long-fetch east to northeast wind.
After it’s done: Bitterly cold Arctic air pours into the region Friday afternoon and night with strong winds and very low wind chill values. Coldest air of the season so far lingers into Saturday. Temperatures moderate Sunday ahead of the next weather system, though timing of it is uncertain. For now will hold it off until Monday when there will be a chance of rain or snow.
Forecast for southeastern New England (southern NH, eastern MA, and RI)…
TONIGHT: Clouds hang on southeastern areas, then more arrive from the west by dawn. Lows 8-18, coldest interior valleys. Wind NW up to 10 MPH.
TUESDAY: Variably cloudy. Scattered snow showers mainly during the afternoon hours. Highs 22-30, coldest interior hills. Wind W 10-20 MPH.
TUESDAY NIGHT – NEW YEAR’S EVE: Variably cloudy with scattered snow showers early, but no significant snow accumulation, only brief dustings possible. Clearing later. Lows 10-18. Wind NW 10-20 MPH gusting 25-30 MPH. Wind chill frequently below 10.
WEDNESDAY – NEW YEAR’S DAY: Bright sunny start, overcast grey sky conclusion. Highs 18-25. Wind W 10-15 MPH early, diminishing to near calm.
THURSDAY: Overcast. Periods of snow. Low 10. High 20.
FRIDAY: Cloudy with periods of snow into midday. Breaking clouds afternoon. Winds increase. Low 8. High 15.
SATURDAY: Mostly sunny. Low -4. High 18.
SUNDAY: Variably cloudy. Low 16. High 36.
MONDAY: Mostly cloudy. Chance of rain or snow. Low 32. High 40.