New England Braces for Another Blizzard

Get ready for more. (PHOTO CREDIT: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Get ready for more. (PHOTO CREDIT: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Hurricane-force winds, 2 feet of accumulation, whiteout conditions, thundersnow. For winter-weary New England, this is starting to feel routine.

Another blizzard looks likely to hit the Northeast this weekend, with Boston racking up around a foot of new snow along with very strong winds that could lead to some big snow drifts. Conditions are going to be absolutely brutal throughout most of coastal New England, especially in Maine where the storm’s full force is expected.

Boston is quickly approaching its snowiest winter on record—in barely a month’s time. On Thursday*, the city broke its all-time February snow record of 41.6 inches, and there are still 16 days left in the month.

@splillo 30-day running total snowfall for Boston, with percentile ranks 50, 75, 90, and 95 pic.twitter.com/h2odP7SBB8

— Sam Lillo (@splillo) February 12, 2015

The National Weather Service has issued blizzard watches for the entire New England coastline north of Cape Cod, where states of emergency are still in effect as the region struggles with record-setting amounts of snow already on the ground. Another round of system-wide transportation shutdowns—by road, rail, and air—is likely from Boston to Portland, Maine.

With a central pressure equivalent to a category 2 or 3 hurricane at its peak, this storm will rival the “Blizzard of 2015” that hit just a few weeks ago and be as big and windy as a hurricane. In fact, weather models show the storm developing a hurricane-like “eye” feature late Sunday. The storm’s huge overall size may rival that of Superstorm Sandy as it approaches the Canadian Maritimes.

After the coming week is over, I’m confident in saying that New England will have completed a month of winter beyond any at least since the United States became a country. The only thing to rival this experience is perhaps the Great Snow of 1717, rumored to have prompted some households to burn their furniture for warmth because they couldn’t make it out the door.

Sunday’s blizzard will begin as a swirl of intensely cold air falling like a bowling ball out of the Arctic.

The storm will wait until it’s offshore of New England to explosively intensify, gaining energy from the warmer-than-normal Atlantic. Weather models are still a bit uncertain about some of the storm’s details as it peaks on Sunday, in part because there’s rarely been a storm that looks like this in advance.

For those in Massachusetts increasingly accustomed to 2- and 3-foot megastorms, this one may actually come as a relief. Blizzards don’t require record levels of snow to do their blizzardy thing, and for some, the biggest story of Sunday’s storm will be wind, not snowfall. The National Weather Service has issued a high wind watch for gusts up to 60 mph for most of coastal New England, but possibly exceeding 75 mph for exposed areas like Cape Cod, where occasional thundersnow may also occur.

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SOURCE: SLATE, Eric Holthaus

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