January 1, 2014 – NEW YORK – A storm covering 100 million Americans has the ingredients—fluffy flakes, strong winds, and record-low temps—to virtually shutdown everything from Boston to New York. Hold on to your ear muffs, East Coast: A near-perfect mix of snow, wind, and intense cold will bring blizzard conditions to New York City and Boston during the overnight hours on Thursday with a near-record chill to follow. The impending storm promises to be the biggest blizzard since a storm called Nemo paralyzed the northeast last February, and may work to bring the northeast corridor to a standstill. Late Wednesday, Boston mayor Tom Menino announced a full closure of city schools on Friday, a full 36 hours in advance. That city appears likely to take the brunt of the storm. Blizzard warnings are in effect for Long Island and the Massachusetts coast, just south of Boston, where winds could gust in excess of 50 mph. The National Weather Service defines official blizzard conditions as snow mixed with high winds (greater than 35 mph) that reduces visibility to a quarter mile or less for a period longer than three hours. The New Jersey shore, New York City, and Boston itself should also get in on the blizzard-y action, though perhaps not for the full three hours.
The mix of high winds and exceptionally cold air means this storm will have a bigger impact than your run-of-the-mill eight to 12 inch snowstorm from New York City to Boston. Why? Very cold air direct from Siberia could help to boost snow totals by making snowflakes lighter and fluffier, tacking on several more inches to snow totals. Typical snow-to-liquid water ratios are around 10:1. This storm’s ratios could be as high as 15 or 20:1, meaning there’ll be more bang for the H2O buck. The close positioning of an intense 1037 millibar high pressure system over Missouri mixed with the very low 988 millibar storm offshore Long Island means winds will be barreling faster than in a typical nor’easter, helping to suck more cold air southwards. For those that failed meteorology 101, the more tightly packed pressure systems are to one another, the faster the atmosphere tries to equalize the discrepancy, thus, strong winds. Adding to the impact of the coming storm will be its duration. Some spots across the northeast will get snow and high winds off and on for 36 hours or more. That will complicate snow removal and affect multiple commute cycles. In general, the storm will be blasting with peak fury from around 4 pm on Thursday to around 6 am on Friday—with the storm lasting an additional six hours in New England. In short, millions of people from Philadelphia to New York City to Boston will experience blizzard conditions early Friday morning.
It’s a complex forecast, for sure, but here’s what to expect: Though snow totals aren’t expected to break the bank in Jersey (likely less than eight inches), the storm could still hit hard. The reason is winds will be directed squarely at the shore, and could produce coastal flooding in an area still dealing with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. The storm surge could be up to a foot or two on top of already high coastal tide cycles on Friday morning, boosted by Wednesday’s lingering supermoon. On the blizzard’s heels, the National Weather Service warns “the coldest air in about 5 years will arrive Friday night” with lows in the single digits. It could be enough to break the daily record of 2ºF in Philadelphia on Saturday morning, set way back in 1918. A last minute upgrade to an official Blizzard Warning for the northern New Jersey shore (Monmouth and Ocean Counties) is still possible, according to a Weather Service technical discussion. –Daily Beast