A powerful storm with central pressure equivalent to a Category 2 hurricane is on track impact the state Sunday afternoon through early Tuesday. Coastal areas will get the full brunt of the storm with around two feet or more of snow possible. A blizzard watch is posted for Down East Maine, including Bangor.
But first, there is Saturday.
No real changes in the forecast for Saturday. I mentioned concern in a Facebook post Friday afternoon of the chance of coastal enhanced snowfall may bump totals up to the 6-8″ range and that remains a possibility for the Portland area over towards Rockland and the islands of Penobscot Bay. Otherwise, it is a general 2-5″ for western, southern, and DownEast areas with lesser amounts for the north.
Snow starts off light Saturday morning, then becomes steadier in the afternoon. The snow tapers to scattered snow showers Saturday night. Snow showers and flurries are possible Sunday morning as outflow ahead of the developing nor’easter approaches from the southwest.
Snow from the main event begins in earnest Sunday afternoon. By around 7:00 PM Sunday night, southwestern areas in Cumberland and York Counties are likely to have an inch or two of accumulation. Snow continues to overspread the state and pile up overnight into Monday.
By 7 AM Monday, coastal areas are likely to be in grips of a full-on blizzard, and it appears that it will continue for the day. Storm track has the low forming south of Long Island, crossing Cape Cod and into the Gulf of Maine.
The explosive nature of intensification is very concerning with this storm. It forms Sunday night offshore of the Mid-Atlantic coast at around 1008mb (29.77″) and quickly moves northeastward into the Gulf of Maine, with central pressure dropping like bomb to around 978mb (28.88″) in a twelve hour span.
As I mentioned in my post Friday there is plenty of moisture to work with this storm from the Gulf of Mexico and as far west as Baja California. The storm is on track to bring copious amounts of snow for coastal areas.
Travel during this event is unadvised. With snowfall rates at 1-4″+ per hour, it will be extremely difficult for plow crews to keep up with this one. Roads are likely to become impassable due to rapidly falling snow.
If the snow isn’t enough, the wind along with it is likely to create near blizzard or blizzard conditions. With the shear volume of snow in conjunction with sustained hurricane force wind as low as 1700 feet above sea level, gusts in the range of 45-55 mph or higher are a real possibility.
Blowing and drifting of snow is likely to be a serious problem for roadways. It doesn’t matter if it is the Maine Turnpike, 95, 195, 295, 395 or any of the other federal or state roads. I am confident that there will be photos of 8 to 10 foot drifts floating around social media from this event.
A definition of a blizzard is a storm having sustained winds at 35 mph with heavy snow causing 1/4 mile or less visibility for a three hour time frame. Given the strength and track of the storm along with the amount of potential snowfall, this is extremely likely for the entire Maine coastline.
A few things to consider when looking at this projected snowfall map.
First, the track has shifted a bit south. The clipper going through the region Saturday has caused the track to flatten out a bit. This trend may continue. If so, northern Maine will see lesser amounts of snowfall. Any jog in track closer to the coast, the totals the north country could double. This is a tricky forecast for Greenville – Millinocket – Houlton northward.
Second, a coastal front is going to try to work into Rockland southwest which may bring an hour or two of rain. There is so much cold air to work with that it won’t get all that far inland. This is likely to cut snow totals for the islands and immediate shorelines down to around a foot or so.
Third, there will be banding with this event. Much like what was seen on Thursday, some areas that experience the heavy bands will have higher snow totals. Some places could conceivably get 30″ of snow out of this.
The fourth and final concern is the potential for dry slotting. Anytime a storm rapidly intensifies like this one, there is always the risk of dry air working into it. I feel this has a low chance given the amount of moisture it has to work with, but there is a chance nonetheless. This may knock a few inches off the snow totals.
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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