This very cold March might be ending with a cold nor’easter, but don’t let the word “nor’easter” freak you out just yet.

A nor’easter is simply a coastal storm that brings northeasterly winds. It doesn’t mean we are going to see a lot of snow – or even a lot of precipitation. The timing of this particular storm does give one pause, however. Twenty years ago, on March 31 and April 1, a nor’easter brought one of the largest-ever snowstorms to Boston and much of southern New England.

Twenty years ago a major April blizzard hit parts of New England. NOAA

Here in Maine the storm was less powerful, but still brought a sizable late season snow. The storm, which became known as the April Fools’ blizzard, still brings back memories for many New Englanders.

Late March and April storms can be very powerful and dangerous. This time of year, a snowstorm often has heavy wet snow, which causes tree damage and power outages. We don’t want a snowstorm this weekend with temperatures just over 32 degrees. That would mean a lot of problems.

After a wet start to this week, high pressure will take over  Thursday and into Friday, bringing dry and sunny weather along with seasonable temperatures.

But late Friday a storm will develop off the coast and start moving precipitation northward. At the same time, cold high pressure in Canada will keep enough cold air in place for the possibility of snow, especially away from the coastline.

Presently, the bulk of any storm would occur Friday night and Saturday morning. Precipitation could be quite significant. A positive aspect of this system is that it has the potential to help with the drought.  The loop below shows the moisture arriving Friday afternoon.  

A nor’easter will threaten Maine with snow, sleet and rain later Friday and Saturday. Tropical Tidbits

There are still several days before we know all the details on how this system will affect Maine. There is the possibility of more rain or sleet than snow, but also the chance of a significant snowstorm in some areas. 

Some of the models have snow amounts that are very high, others quite low. Be wary of forecasts the next couple of days, as some are just using big numbers for shock value. Let’s wait until we have some confidence in the forecast before we start buying bread and milk. In the end, it could just be a lot of rain.

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