Saturday, March 8, 2014
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.
When I saw the new run of the computer models and the European and the GFS and the NAM (all names for our models) pointed to another plowable to major snowstorm my heart kinda sank. I guess we can consider this a 24 hour reprieve between big systems. As if that wasn’t fun enough, more snow is possible Tuesday night or Wednesday from a clipper type system. That could bring several inches ahead of the milder air for later next week.
I am going to keep this blog rather short this evening. We all know what these storms bring at this point. There are some unique aspects to every storm. This is going to be a quick hitting storm which happens in about 12 hours between 4PM Saturday and early Sunday morning. The storm will still rage for the first few hours after sunrise Sunday over Down East Maine. The snow totals are going to increase dramatically from Portland to Penobscot bay where nearly a foot could fall. Some places in far eastern Maine could approach 2 feet if the storm track and intensity are just right (or wrong depending on your perspective)
Heavy snow continues across southern Maine this evening with snowfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour. As I look at what happened in southern New England this afternoon and move that into Maine you can expect most of the snow to occur until around 7PM or 8PM in Portland and through 11PM across the Capitol District.
From midnight through 5AM snow will continue in the mountains with some light mixed snow and rain or just all rain at the coast. The snow will pile up in ski country, but won’t amount to anything at the coastline.
Try to shovel the snow in stages this evening as it will pile up very quickly and along the coast it is heavier than our past storms.
Let’s start today's blog with five bottom lines on this storm. First, the heaviest snow moves into the area around or just after noon. Lighter snow before this time will amount to 1 to 2 inches. Second, the snow will be light and mostly fluffy over all areas to start, but become wetter and heavier along the coast this evening. Third, this isn’t going be an historical storm for anywhere in Maine although it’s the same storm which brought historical snow and ice to the southeastern part of the United States. Forth, there will not be any coastal flooding from this storm. Finally, there will be some icing on top of the snow this evening and overnight which can lead to scattered, but not widespread power outages.
The snow will continue to become heavy late this morning and early this afternoon while at the same time the warmer air continues to flow northward at higher levels of the atmosphere. This process of overrunning will bring a period of heavy snow to the region with snowfall rates exceeding 1 inch per hour late this morning and afternoon.
By now most of you know the key to the forecast is the mix/snow line. My accumulation map is based on some mixing within 5 to 10 miles of the coast. As this occurs, it will cut amounts somewhat. Sleet is about three times as dense as snow so it takes 3 inches of snow to make one inch of sleet. The more sleet and freezing rain mixing into the total accumulation the lower it will be.
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.
There is a real buzz about the upcoming weather for Thursday, but here in Maine this isn’t going to be a storm of catastrophic or historic proportions. Those words are being use to describe the system, as it impacts the southern states, where major accumulations of ice will cause hazardous driving and significant power outages.
Wednesday is a bright and cold day after another sub-zero morning for many of you. We will see nearly 100% of the possible sunshine and you will need the sunglasses as you head to work. You may notice a few wispy clouds on the southern horizon late in the day a forerunner of the coming snow.
There is a winter storm watch up for much of Maine for Thursday and into early Friday. I circled on the map below all the areas of the east under some sort of watch or warning related to this storm.The morning commute Thursday will be dry although there could be a few flurries over extreme southern Maine by the end of the commute.