Wednesday February 12, 2014 | 08:40 PM
Posted by David Epstein

Winter storm warnings are now in effect for most of Maine in anticipation of the nor'easter Thursday through early Friday.  If you need to get errands done Thursday, try to complete them by noon in Portland, 11AM in York and 1 PM in Lewiston to avoid the snow.

The storm is going to ride up the coastal as what we affectionately call a “coastal hugger."   As these types of storms move along the coast, they carry a lot of moisture and also a lot of warm air on their right side.  Along the immediate shore of coastal Maine, a difference in 10 miles of the exact place the center of the storm passes can change the amount of snow by 4 to 5 inches.

This is the same storm bringing terrible winter weather to areas of the southeast where this storm will be historical and some of those folks will be talking about this event for many years.  For us here in New England, it’s a typical nor’easter with the heaviest  snow inland and over the mountains and some rain mixing in along the coastal plain where amounts will be less. 

Snow

The snow forecast is the biggest challenge.  This is the toughest forecast of the winter because there is so much precipitation involved.  Inland areas will see all snow; that’s the easy part. The difficult piece of the forecast is determining how far inland the rain/snow line pushed tomorrow later in the afternoon and evening and how this impacts snow totals.  Right now, I feel the rain/snow line will push west just beyond the Turnpike in southern Maine and hug Route 1 as you move north of Brunswick.  It may turn out areas like Bailey Island see a few inches of snow while Topsham receives nearly 10 inches, that’s how tight the gradient of snow and rain will be during this event.

Wind

There will be strong winds developing during this storm.  The winds will contribute to the possibility of power outages, especially in the area with the heaviest snow.   Tides are astronomically low; however there still could be some minor beach erosion and splash over of sea water at the time high tide late this evening.

Timing

The morning commute will likely be dry.  The snow will overspread the area during the late morning and early afternoon.  If you are headed to work tomorrow, leave early so you can head home early as the storm moves in.  The evening commute will be difficult and I expect speeds on the highways to be significantly reduced due to the weather.  The loop below is a forecast for how the storm will move over the next two days.  You can see the rain/snow line just nick the coast of Maine if you watch the images closely.  Also, notice the blue area, (snow) come back from the southwest Friday morning as the storm departs.

The storm will continue much of the overnight hours and start winding down early Friday morning.  If the snow has changed to rain in your area, it will likely turn back to snow before it ends during the morning.  Some schools may have to cancel classes Friday if the snow lingers and continues to accumulate past sunrise. 

I do expect a lull in the storm after 1AM Friday before that final batch of snow moves through the area between 6AM and 11 AM Friday.  I will be watching the development of this system to see how the final batch of snow materializes Friday.  This is likely going to cause driving issue for the Friday morning commmute. 

Saturday

A weak system will bring some snow showers or light snow to the area Saturday morning.  This won’t be a big system or even medium, but it could coat the ground or give a couple of inches of new snow.   Behind this system it turns colder for Sunday.   There may actually be more storminess during the first part of the next week.

When does this cold end?

There are signs of a moderation in temperatures later next week and some melting is possible. Several indicators show temperatures reaching the upper 30s sometime after the 18th.  I’m just trying to give you all something to look forward to in this very rough winter season.

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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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