March 22, 2024

Heavy snows, flooding rains likely as weekend coastal storm looms

An ugly weekend is shaping up along much of the East Coast as a potent low-pressure system rolls up the Atlantic seaboard.

Our developing system will feed on plenty of moisture streaming in from the south. This ample reserve of evaporated paradise will fuel heavy rains for much of the I-95 corridor, as well as bountiful snows across interior sections of New England.

This low-pressure system was already impressive in its infancy as it got its act together across the southeastern states on Friday.

Powerful thunderstorms rocked the southern tip of Florida, prompting tornado warnings and flash flood alerts across the Florida Keys.

There was even a remarkable long-lived supercell thunderstorm that tracked along the north-central shores of Cuba on Friday afternoon, dropping very large hail west and south of Havana.

We'll see this storm intensify as it rolls up the coast into Saturday, producing very heavy rains along its track. Expect widespread downpours to envelop the I-95 corridor from Richmond to Boston through the day Saturday, lingering into Saturday night for many areas.

Most communities will see several inches of rain in a relatively short period of time. Flash flood watches are in effect from Washington, D.C., up to Boston in anticipation of flooded roads and rising waters on vulnerable creeks.

Farther north, our moisture-laden storm will run into a slug of cold air that'll allow impressive snows to plaster towns from the New York's Tug Hill Plateau all the way through northern Maine. 

The National Weather Service expects more than a foot of snow to blanket the Adirondacks, much of Vermont, northern New Hampshire, and almost all of interior Maine west of I-95.

(Forecast graphic via NWS Caribou)

Things get tricky closer to the coast, where temperatures hovering around freezing will make for mixed precipitation types throughout the storm. Snow will give way to periods of freezing rain or plain ol' rain through Saturday night, then change back over to all snow on Sunday as cold air wraps around the departing system.

Folks around Augusta and Bangor may see an extended period of freezing rain during the switch on Saturday. Areas that see more than one-quarter of an inch of ice accretion may see tree damage and power outages.

The good news, at least, is that this storm isn't going to linger. This weekend's quick-hitting thump will give way to calm conditions and warming temperatures by the beginning of next week.

[Satellite image via NOAA]

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March 12, 2024

Major, disruptive snowstorm aims for Denver and Colorado Springs

Tuesday's highs in the 60s will feel like a distant memory before long as a major snowstorm brews along and east of the Colorado Rockies.

Widespread snowfall totals of one to two feet are on the way from Fort Collins down through Colorado Springs. Roads will be impassable as the heavy, wet snow begins piling up late Wednesday and through the day Thursday.

In addition to travel issues, tree damage and power outages are possible as the wet snow weighs down branches and power lines.

Modeled surface dew points and surface winds for around 12 a.m. Thursday (MDT). [Tropical Tidbits]

This is a dicey setup that's had meteorologists on the edge of their seats for the past couple of days. An upper-level low swinging over the Rockies will give rise to a storm over the central Plains. This storm will produce several days of severe weather through the center of the country.

Our budding storm will also help scoop up moisture and hurl it toward eastern Colorado. You can see the moisture pushing into eastern Colorado on the model image above, which shows surface dew points around midnight on Thursday.

Moist and persistent northeasterly winds blowing into Colorado will rise up and over the terrain—a formidable bout of upsloping that'll feed this bout of widespread heavy snowfall.

Snow will develop along the Front Range and the foothills through the second half of Wednesday, with rain changing to snow for communities along I-25 into Wednesday night.

The latest forecast from the National Weather Service calls for 12-18 inches of snow for the Denver and Boulder metros, with 8-12 inches of snow in the forecast down in Colorado Springs. Communities higher in the foothills could easily see two or more feet of snow by the end of the day Thursday, with more than three feet of snow possible for the highest elevations.

That's...a solid thump of snow! Denver averages about 7.8" of snow during the month of March. The city's snowiest March on record occurred back in 2021, when 34.0" of snow fell on the city—more than two feet of which fell in one historic thump. If Denver hits 18" on the high end of its predicted range, it'd be a top-ten March snowfall since records began back in 1875.

It's going to be a wet snow to boot. The Weather Prediction Center's Winter Storm Severity Index calls for "major" to "extreme" impacts across the region, which is a solid indication forecasters expect major disruptions as a result of this storm.

Shovelling a foot or more of slushy snow will increase the risk for heart attacks and muscle injuries. Please don't overdo it. The weight of the snow will also increase the potential for tree damage and power outages, which could be significant across the Front Range and the foothills.

Conditions across the region should improve after the snow clears out late Thursday. Temperatures will remain on the chillier side of normal heading into the weekend, with warmer air arriving by next week. Daytime highs may return to the 60s by next Tuesday.

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