Winter storm to hit Wednesday

Submitted by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency

Situation

The National Weather Service (NWS) is tracking a winter storm that will impact Massachusetts late Wednesday evening or early Thursday into Friday morning. Although the storm currently is predicted to trend further offshore then initially expected, it is not far enough offshore to reduce the risk of possible extreme impacts. If the storm follows the current track predictions, its greatest impacts will be in southern New England, the Cape and Islands.  Note:  the storm is still 48 hours away and there is still significant uncertainty as to its track and timing; changes in the track may significantly change the forecast.

Watches and Warnings

None posted at this time, but Winter Storm Warning may be required for most of the state.

Timing

  • Snow is expected to begin late Wednesday evening or early Thursday.
  • Steadiest snow will occur Thursday afternoon or evening with heaviest snow expected Thursday night into Friday morning. Over the Cape and Islands, accumulating snow may persist until Friday evening.

Accumulations

  • The snow will have relatively low water content and be of a fluffy consistency.
  • Potential of 6 to 12 inches across much of southern New England with highest amounts likely in southeast Massachusetts.
  • Risk of locally higher amounts across Boston’s South Shore and the Cape and Islands where ocean effect enhancement is likely. Possibility of isolated pockets of 1 to 2 feet in this area.

Winds

The wind will be strongest Thursday night into Friday morning. The preliminary maximum wind gust forecasts are as follows:

  • Western MA: Gusts 20 to 25 mph- possibly stronger over exposed higher terrain.
  • Worcester Hills: Gusts 25 to 30 mph – highest over exposed terrain.
  • Eastern MA:  Gusts 30 to 40 mph. Wind gusts of 50 mph possible along the immediate MA coast.

Flooding Forecasts

Coastal flooding risk is possible for Massachusetts east coast. The preliminary indications for high tides are as follows:

  • Thursday midday: Minor coastal flooding is likely.
  • Thursday night (around midnight): Minor to moderate coastal flooding with beach erosion. Worst case scenario will be moderate flooding south of Boston.
  • Friday midday: Minor to moderate coastal flooding for Boston north with some beach erosion.  Moderate flooding possible south of Boston with significant beach erosion possible.
  • Current Plausible Worst Case Scenario: Pockets of moderate to major coastal flooding along the South Shore (including Hull and Scituate), Sandwich, and Nantucket. Pockets of severe beach erosion are also possible north facing Cape Cod Bay side of the Cape (including Sandwich), ocean side of outer Cape (including Chatham), and Nantucket east side.

Impacts

  • Blowing and drifting snow is likely across southern New England with possible periods of blizzard conditions Thursday night into Friday morning for this area.
  • The snow may impact the commute Thursday evening and Friday morning.
  • Because the temperatures will be very cold and the snow will be relatively light, widespread power outages are not expected.

MEMA Planning Activities

Coastal Flooding/Evacuations:  MEMA is focused on developing plans to support coastal communities with (i) evacuations of coastal areas and (ii) warming center and shelter operations in the event of evacuations of coastal areas.  MEMA’s present plan is to activate state staging areas along the east coast (including the Cape) and to stage high-water rescue resources in these staging areas in advance of Thursday’s mid-day high tide.  MEMA is coordinating with the National Guard, State Police, Environmental Police, Coast Guard and Department of Fire Services to identify and pre-position high-water vehicles and boats in these state staging areas.  Twelve hours in advance of the first problematic high-tide (which currently looks to be Thursday mid-day), MEMA will work with the National Weather Service and local coastal communities to determine whether to move resources from the state staging areas into local coastal communities in advance of the high-tide.

Shelter Operations:  In the event of coastal area evacuations, coastal communities may need to open warming centers and/or shelters.  Coastal communities are urged to pre-plan for these operations.  MEMA is working with the Red Cross to ensure that the state and the Red Cross are ready to support local warming centers and shelters, and ready to open regional shelters if required.

Conference Call with Coastal Communities:  MEMA will receive an updated forecast from the National Weather Service later this afternoon.  If moderate (or greater) coastal flooding is still being forecasted, MEMA will conduct a conference call with coastal communities on Wednesday, January 1st (time to be decided).  If a call is planned, dialing instructions will be disseminated via our email and HHAN systems.

MEMA anticipates sending out Situational Awareness Statements at least twice daily between now and Thursday.

 

MEMA Operations

MEMA’s Emergency Operations Center is currently at Level I (Steady State/Monitoring).  A decision to activate to a higher level will be made closer in time to the onset of the storm.

To receive additional emergency notifications on your Android or iPhone, download MEMA’s emergency alerting app Ping4Alerts! For more information, visit www.mass.gov/mema/mobileapp

Online Resources
Additional forecast information is available from the National Weather Service at www.weather.gov/albany andwww.weather.gov/boston.

The Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service can be found at http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/index.php?wfo=box.

Stay tuned to NOAA all hazards radio, or your local media for updated information throughout the day.

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