Tags: snow | bomb | northeast | US

Springtime Snow 'Bomb' Takes Aim at Northeast

Saturday, 22 Mar 2014 03:46 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Winter isn't quite ready to give up its icy hold on the Atlantic Coast states, as meteorologists are predicting a possible spring snow "bomb" for Tuesday and Wednesday with blizzard conditions possible for eastern New England.

According to AccuWeather, the storm could spread all the way from the Carolinas up the East Coast into Maine, and has the potential of dumping heavy snows along its path.

The storm is starting in the Gulf of Alaska this weekend, heading southeast into British Columbia and into the Northern Rockies. It is expected to drop light snow and rain on the midwest states, but as it heads east, its new center will form over the Gulf of Mexico and then grow stronger when it hits the East Coast.

AccuWeather expert senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski, on the service's blog, writes that it's not yet known how much snow the storm will drop.

"The key to whether or not heavy snow falls on the mid-Atlantic and New England coasts, from Washington, D.C., to Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, Hartford, Conn., and Boston, is how quickly the newer storm center strengthens," said Sosnowski.

If the storm strengthens quickly, it will turn north and head up the East Coast, dropping heavy snow and generating rough seas, but a weaker storm will go further east over the ocean, where it will not have as much impact on New England.

While the storm models are still early, Sosnowski said the storm could first drop snow on the southern Appalachians and over upstate South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia on Tuesday. Depending on how close the storm comes to the coast, it may either slam New England hard or just graze those states.

"If the storm develops to its full potential and remains close enough to the East Coast, parts of New England could be faced with an all-out blizzard before the storm barrels into Atlantic Canada on Wednesday," said Sosnowski.

And even with the March sun, accumulating snows may still occur, creating a wallop on the areas affected.

"Where heavy wet snow falls on areas where trees are budding and blossoming in the South, there is a greater risk of downed tree limbs and power outages with the storm," said AccuWeather Chief Operating Officer Evan Myers.

The storm is showing some similarities with the March 24-25, 1983 storm that hit the Carolinas, dumping 6-10 inches on the states, said weatherman Frank Strait.

The storm pattern is expected to be in place through much of next week, reports Slate, leaving temperatures at least 10 to 25 degrees colder than they usually are in March.

While AccuWeather is being cautious with its prediction, the National Weather Service, in a technical discussion, is calling the potential storm a "Nor'easter bomb indicated off the mid-Atlantic coast."

"Bomb" is a term used by meteorologists to describe what happens when a low pressure center drops faster than 24 millibars in 24 hours, a case scenario that produces the most intense storms.

"The East Coast cyclone has the potential to produce late-season heavy snowfall over a wide swath of real estate from Virginia to New England; that is a generality at this point," said a National Weather Service report. "Much remains in terms of refining the forecast state by state. Another high-impact factor will be the powerful winds generated by this sprawling, intense circulation, along with high seas, beach battery, coastal flooding, and so forth. Again, at this point, such sensible weather effects are simply attendant to the potential of such a storm."

One of the storm's models indicates it could strengthen at twice the rate that normally occurs in "a bomb," reports The Slate. The GFS long-range model also is forecasting that the storm will peak with sustained hurricane force winds over the ocean by Wednesday afternoon.

And while the winds form, the jet stream above the surface will increase the storm's potential, which could energize the storm and make its snow totals soar.

As a result, the Canadian Meteorologist Centre's GGEM says the snow could rank as one of New York City's deepest, dumping two feet of the white stuff by Wednesday.

Other forecasters, though, say that other similar storms dumped much less snow, about six inches, so until the storm clouds gather more, an exact forecast hasn't been finalized, and the National Weather Service warns that despite the models, "small changes now could lead to big shifts in the forecast down the road."

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