A monster of a snowstorm could clobber the Northeast this weekend, if the weather models pan out.
According to Slate, nearly early every model predicts that a storm could dump between one and two feet of snow everywhere between Northern Virginia and Boston.
The National Weather Service in the Baltimore-Washington area says it could bring “significant travel delays, closures, and threats to life and property,” and heavy snow is expected in other parts of the coast.
On Twitter, one meteorlogist called it a “blizzard for the ages”:
As Slate’s Eric Holthaus writes, “What’s amazing — perhaps even more so than the impressive potential snow totals — is that all the major weather models are already locked in so far in advance.”
Of course, we’re still three to four days away from when the blizzard is supposed to hit, so a lot could change in that time.
This could signal the end of the unusually mild winter the Northeast has been having, which is only partially linked to this year’s record-strength El Niño (a global weather pattern linked to warmer-than-usual water temperatures in the Pacific).
Here’s a pretty animation of one of the forecasts:
NOAA meteorologist Paul Kocin said in a forecast discussion Tuesday that the conditions for this week’s snowstorm are “textbook,” saying there was potential for a “significant” East Coast snowstorm Friday through Sunday.
He noted that while there is good agreement in the weather models, there are small but crucial differences. All models suggest the storm will continue building as it moves toward the midatlantic coast, become more vertical, and move northeastward.
The storm will likely slow down as it moves off the midatlantic coast, but then it could either speed up again as it heads northeast, or several weather fronts could interserct farther north and east, Kocin wrote. In both scenarios, “the overall speed of the system is important to affect the amount of snow in any one area,” he said.
But as good as the forecasts are, they’re still just predictions, and they have been wrong in the past. Take the “historic blizzard” that was forecast to hit New York City in January 2015, which was predicted to dump as much as two feet of snow on the city but only brought about 5.5 inches.
So don’t panic yet, but it might be time to get the snow shovels ready!
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