Major Winter Storm This Weekend

Odds of a significant winter storm this weekend continue to increase and I'm quite confident we've got a mess on our hands Saturday night and Sunday. I'm expecting snow to develop across Connecticut between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. Saturday and then the question is when do we see a transition to sleet and freezing rain? 

GFS Ensembles show a substantial amount of precipitation from this storm over the weekend.

This storm is going to be loaded with juice. Moisture streaming up from the Gulf of Mexico means we're going to get a lot of precipitation. Most models show around 2" of melted precipitation - that's really significant. The plume diagram above from the GFS ensembles show the heavy amounts on virtually ever ensemble member. 

The storm is unlikely, however, to be all snow. While we can't rule out a snowier solution most of our computer models show a lot of warm air moving in aloft by Sunday morning. These two graphics (below) off the GFS computer model show the large tilt to this storm with height. At the surface the storm's center will be near Connecticut while about 10,000 above our heads the storm will actually be closer to Burlington, VT! This is a classic setup for cold air hanging on near the ground but milder air moving in at cloud level.

Closer to the surface the center of the storm will be near Connecticut. This model I believe is a bit too far north. To the north of the low the winds will be out of the north allowing cold air to drain south from Canada and result in a layer of below freezing air near the ground.
About 10,000 feet up the storm center will be closer to Burlington, VT than here in Connecticut. Southerly winds at this level will bring warmer air toward New England and likely lead to a change to sleet (cloud temperatures will warm above freezing). How deep that warm layer is will determine if we see sleet or freezing rain.

So we're left with the question of just how much cold air remains at the surface and how much warm air comes in aloft. A degree or two will make a big difference and 50 or 100 miles in storm track will too! The colder air residing under warmer clouds is a good combination for ice. Here's what's most likely at this moment. 

  • Accumulating snowfall down to the shoreline starting Saturday evening. 
  • Snow changes to sleet and freezing rain in most locations on Sunday.
  • Significant accumulations of snow, sleet, and freezing rain possible.
  • A narrow zone of significant icing (freezing rain) may cause issues for trees and power lines.
  • More specific storm totals and change over times are to be determined.
  • Challenging travel conditions will exist for a good chunk of Sunday. 
  • Bitterly cold moves in for Monday and any slush will freeze solid. 
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