Saturday December 28, 2013 | 05:41 PM
Posted by David Epstein

 It’s been a snowy December and it's about to get a even snowier tomorrow night.

The watch for heavy snow from earlier today has now been upgraded to a warning.  In addition to this, there are winter weather advisories for snow, just less of it, south and east of the warning area.

 

As warmer air flows along the coast into the weather system, snow will quickly change to rain or even start as rain in southern and coastal Maine.    Once the rain begins, it could come down quite heavy for a while, but the snowpack will absorb so much of the rain flooding isn't an issue.

Across inland areas it will be cold enough for snow and the snow could be heavy for several hours Sunday night. In areas where there isn't any rain, at least 6 and perhaps as much as 10 inches of snow will fall from this storm.

I will up updating the forecast throughout the weekend on Twitter @growingwisdom, please follow me there.

 The "jackpot" of snow is going to be on a line just north of Lewiston to August and Bangor.   These cities are also all in the watch area for Sunday night.  

Sharp gradient

There will be a very sharp gradient of snowfall amounts between the southern coast and inland areas.  For example,  Elliot and Kittery could see under an inch of snow, while Sanford and Limerick see over 6 inches.  The same sort of gradient will show up from Portland to Grey to Lewiston and Augusta.  

 

Although there will be rain mixing in along the coast, there will still be some accumulation of snow.  As colder air filters back in to the area in the early morning hours of Monday, rain will change to snow in places like Portland and come down hard for a few hours.  The exact timing of the changeover will ultimately determine the final snow totals.  The snow will stick to trees and wires and could cause a few scattered power issues, not what you want to read I'm sure.

 Timing

I expect the precipitation to begin between 3PM and 5PM in most areas and end between 4AM and 6AM Monday.  You can add a couple of hours to these times north of Augusta.

 

Two to three hours of rain versus snow will remove as many inches from the predicted totals. If the cold air arrives faster, even Portland could see higher amounts of snow.

Right now, there has been 24.9 inches of snow in Portland this month.  This puts 2013 tied with the 15th snowiest December on record.  If we see just over 4 inches of snow, we can move into the top 10.   There is zero change we will break the record of 54.8 inches of snow set back in the brutally snowy winter of 1970-71.  I remember the month well and there are pictures of me on these massive piles of snow at the end of my street where it had been piled up all month.  I think it was that winter when I decided I wanted to become a weatherman.

Here comes the cold

After the storm departs, the door to the arctic is going to open and allow the coldest air of the season to usher in 2014.  The arctic will arrive in stages until we arrive at Thursday morning when it will peak. Highs Monday will near freezing, but we won't see 30s again for at least a week.

New Years Eve will be very cold with highs in the teens along the coast and single numbers inland. It's a few degrees colder for New Year's day and if you are going to be outside New Years Eve, you will need the hand warmers and warmest clothes.  The temperature at midnight in Portland will be about 8 above zero. 

On Thursday, all areas of the state will be below zero with afternoon readings remaining in the single numbers along the coast and at or even below zero in the mountains.   Speaking of the mountains and areas north and west of Rumford.  These towns will go below zero Tuesday around sunset and not recover into positive territory until Friday afternoon.   That's pretty cold.

Next Storm

There is a chance of another snow event towards the end of next week.  Details are not available, but I suspect you will be hearing more about this potential in the next few days.

 

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About the Author

David Epstein has been a meteorologist for more than 25 years. He spent 16 years in Boston and currently freelances at WGME13 in Portland.

In 2006, David founded GrowingWisdom.com, a business producing educational and marketing videos for the green industry. He currently is a professor at Framingham State College, teaches Jan Plan at Colby College and owns Bloomscapes Inc., a landscape design business.

David authored "Gardens Of New England" and his work has been published in Grolier's Science Annual for 10 years. He lives in South Natick, Mass., and has a summer home in Harpswell.

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