Significant Storm On The Way
A strong storm will develop off the Mid-Atlantic coast on Thursday. The storm will rapidly intensify, bringing heavy snow for much of interior Maine Thursday night into early Friday. Strong wind, high surf, storm surge, along with astronomical high tides appear to batter the coastline late evening. There may even be a few claps of thunder embedded in the height of the storm early Friday.
After this storm passes, snow threats return again for over New Years weekend, and for Tuesday next week. Unlike last winter, this season is appearing to be a very active one.
Snow develops over the state from west to east during the day, with most, if not all of Maine seeing light snow by the evening commute. There may be a few slick spots for southern and western areas before 7:00 PM. After that, it all goes down hill very rapidly as the storm advances into the Gulf of Maine.
Two Storms Merge Into One
Low pressure just south of St. James Bay transfers energy into a low forming of the Mid-Atlantic coast Thursday morning. For those that read my post from Tuesday, this is good news. Had the storm formed further south, it would be that much more intense by the time it hit Maine Thursday night. This one appears to make landfall at around 975mb (28.79″), which would be the strongest storm to hit the state since the Valentines Day Blizzard in 2014.
For folks travelling Thursday night into early Friday, you can expect roads to be an adventure. Snowfall rates at 1-3″ per hour are expected over the western & central interior part of the state and will continue until the storm pulls north Friday morning. Road crews will certainly have their hands full keeping the main roads clear. Secondary roads may be an afterthought until Friday morning when the snowfall velocity slows to much more manageable pace. Any travel for Thursday night for western areas is greatly discouraged.
Given the rapid intensification, there is enough upper level instability where embedded thunder and lightning may occur from around 10 PM to 2 AM. It is not often that Maine sees this weather phenomena of thunder snow. If you happen to be in an area that experiences it, please notify your local National Weather Service, or send me a tweet.
Shorelines To Take A Beating
At the height of the storm is also high tide for the Maine shoreline. Astrologically, it is a new moon phase right now where tides are abnormally high. Combine a powerful storm making landfall in the vicinity of the MidCoast / Penobscot Bay area, an additional 1-3 feet of storm surge on top of 15-20 foot waves may lead to low to moderate flooding and beach erosion at the time of high tide in the 11 PM hour late Thursday night.
While the ocean appears that it will be plenty agitated, wind gusts in the 40 – 60 mph range will also cause havoc along the shorelines. Even if the shorelines escape the heavy wet snow, there will be enough wind to cause power outages. Folks along the coast should prepare in case of a loss of electricity.
Conditions To Improve Friday Morning
As quickly the storm comes, it also briskly departs. Coastal areas appears to be done with the heavy snow & rain by roughly 4 to 6 AM Friday morning. Western and northern areas are likely to see snow showers continue for most of the day, but certainly not at the velocity from overnight. Roads may be daunting for interior areas Friday morning until the road crews can get caught up. Allow for plenty of extra time if you must head out early.
Snowfall Totals (UPDATED 8:15 AM Thursday)
A slight adjustment from what was posted yesterday. This is still a very tricky forecast for the coast as a coastal front appears to accompany the storm. Immediate shorelines could escape any arduous shoveling from this event. Given the projected track, the Southwest coast is likely to see more snow, and Down East areas on the low, or get nothing out of this. The reason for that is the west side of the storm is the colder side, and the east the warmer one.
The coast and coastal interior can expect the heavy, wet, heart-attack type snowfall, which is difficult to move and causes streets, parking lots, and roadways to be a slushy, icy, slick mess. Further inland, there is less water content in the snow, making it a bit easier to handle.
If there is an area where it will over-perform, it will be in the western mountains and foothills. I get the impression that some places may exceed 2 feet. This has taken the interest of the National Weather Service as well, as they have issued an avalanche watch for Mount Washington.
If there is an area where the storm may under perform as far as snowfall amounts, it would be Hancock and Washington Counties, where warm air off the water from the coastal front may cut down on totals, or melt any snow fallen with rain.
Don’t be fooled here, no matter if you live on the islands or deep in the northern woods, this is a dangerous storm. There is still room for changes in the forecast, and there is always a chance for a surprise to occur. Use common sense, and refrain from travel unless absolutely necessary until Friday morning.
More Chances For Snow On The Way
Anytime there is a big event, a sucker-punch style storm usually comes in its wake, and this storm is no different. New Years Eve Saturday sees a weak clipper cut across the region late in the afternoon into Sunday morning. At this point, it does not appear to be a heavy snow maker, but enough where it may warrant road crews to treat the streets and cause slick spots. Anyone going out to ring in the New Year should be aware that travel may be a bit dicey after the ball drops.
After the New Years dust up, there is potential for another storm Tuesday. It’s way too early to get into any sort of specifics on this one, but if you scroll up to the first map I showed you, it looks rather similar to Thursday’s storm. It would be wise to stay tuned.
Please join us for the live blog on the Bangor Daily News website on Thursday for extensive coverage of this pending storm. Check the main page for the link.
~ Mike Haggett
Updates are usually posted between 4 – 6 PM daily. Please bookmark Pine Tree Weather in order to check to get the latest update!
Special thanks to Tropical Tidbits and Pivotal Weather for their written permission to use their graphics in this post. Use of WeatherTAP images used within their written permitted terms of media use policy. Additional forecast information supplied by the National Weather Service, WeatherBELL Analytics and AccuWeather Professional.
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